Unwed Father’s Rights Need Safeguarding!
By Jeffery Leving | Leving’s Divorce Magazine
Unwed biological fathers are often told they have no rights when it comes to their infant children when placed for adoption. The fact they fathered their child is not considered important when the mother decides, on her own, to give the infant child up for adoption in certain circumstances.
But, this gender disparity in equal protection and due process in parental rights is changing.
Recently, the State of Utah adopted House Bill 308 that is designed to safeguard unwed paternal rights in regards to children six months or younger from being adopted. This law would require unwed fathers to be issued official notification of the mother’s intention to give their infant child up for adoption in certain circumstances. Once received, the father would then have 30 days to assert his rights as a parent and petition the court for custody. This closes a loophole which had allowed mothers to circumvent notifying the biological father and thus committing the ultimate act of parental alienation – terminating the father-child relationship forever.
Common sense and fair play would argue that if an unwed mother decides to give up her rights to a child, then the biological father would automatically be given the opportunity to take custody of his child. Instead, a stranger can be given the right to adopt the child, often without the father even knowing he will never see his child again.
All too often these points are treated unreasonably in many states because too many jurisdictions have rejected the rights of fathers regarding infant children born outside of marriage.
The mother, it is aggressively argued, bears the burden of child birth and therefore should be the sole parent overseeing the child’s well-being and future relationship with the birth father. This not only doesn’t make sense, but can strip children of someone who has a natural biological drive to protect them – their own father.
Utah isn’t the only state that has begun to tear down these antiquated attitudes against biological fathers.
Recently, a legislative initiative evolved in the State of Michigan to adopt a similar law involving putative fathers. This House Bill (HB 4067), which, among other things, would allow biological fathers the right to seek to establish paternity even if the child’s mother was married to another man between the time the child was conceived and born.
The new Michigan legislation would provide a detailed mechanism to establish paternity for a biological father as previous statues automatically granted paternity to the marital father.
Again, common sense would dictate that the biological father, the one who conceived the child with the mother, would have rights to establish paternity and custody, but this is not always the case. Existing laws in many states not only ignore the rights of the father, but ignore the rights of the child.
The rights of fathers should be balanced against the rights of mothers when it comes to safeguarding the well-being of their children. Equal protection and due process should exist in every state regardless of gender and marital status. Unwed fathers should not be wrongfully excluded from making decisions that are necessary in raising their children, including education, religious training, and health care. This is critical in this nation where approximately 33.1% of children are born out of wedlock.
However, if there is a child placement disagreement, the child’s future is too often decided based on parental gender and marital status.
Unwed fathers’ rights legislation will hopefully be enacted into law in both Utah and also in Michigan and spread throughout the nation. These are steps in the right direction to correct this unfair imbalance. Constitutional rights must apply to unwed fathers and their children too.
Here is a transcript of the interview where they discuss the importance of responsible fatherhood:
Jeffery M. Leving: Senator Barack Obama
Then Senator Barack Obama appeared as a guest on the Jeffery Leving Fathers’ Rights Legal Show on SOUL 106.3 FM – Chicago/Indiana.
President Obama: Yes, sir!
JML: How are you doing? It’s an honor to talk to you. I actually met you at an NAACP event Vera Davis put on in Chicago years ago.
President Obama: Well it’s wonderful to talk to you again.
JML: This is Jeffery Leving with the Jeffery Leving Fathers’ Rights Legal Show today. And today we are honored to have as our guest Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama.
Senator, I was reading your website, BarackObama.com/family and I was reading about Strengthening Fatherhood and Families and in your website, you talk about fatherless children and how they are more likely to end up in poverty and drop out of school and I also read your Responsible Fatherhood & Healthy Families Act.
And I think that’s tremendous and it can help a lot of children and families. What motivated you to re-introduce the Responsible Fatherhood & Healthy Families Act?
President Obama: Well, Jeffery as you know my father left me when I was 2. I remember watching my mom struggle as a single parent, trying to go to school and work and raise 2 kids at the same time – and fortunately she has support from my grandparents but a lot of single moms don’t have that.
And unfortunately although many of them do heroic jobs – it is true that statistically; children without fathers involved their lives are more likely to experience poverty, more likely their girls to get pregnant as teenagers, they’re more likely to have problems at school and so I really believe that it’s important for us in all communities but especially the African American Community – which has seen such as problem with lack of men and male involvement in family life that we really put an emphasize on this.
And this is something that the government can help to make sure that we don’t have a dis-incentive for fathers to be involved; make sure that our welfare programs for example are designed in such a way that they don’t penalize fathers participating.
I think we got to do a real good job trying to reintroduce males who’ve been involved in the criminal justice system as ex-offenders – giving them the opportunity so that they are able to support their families, find work, get on the right path – but ultimately there’s a lot of personal responsibility that’s involved in this. And one of the things I want to do as president is to use the bully pulpit to say to men, “You’ve to get involved in your child’s life. It will make a difference not only in their lives but in yours.”
JML: I agree with you 100%. We need to support and involve fatherhood. I also believe, to do this, we have to change the way the world views dads – and fathers are an untapped resource and I believe by involving fathers in positive relationships with their children, that will reduce youth violence which is affecting our country terribly, especially in Chicago where we’re from.
So we need to do this and justice shouldn’t be a luxury and many fathers don’t have the resources to seek legal counsel, to involve themselves in their children’s lives and they don’t have even basic knowledge – so your bill is excellent.
I’m a big supporter of it because I think the bill will help many many children throughout our country – because millions of children are father-absent in the United States and because of that, they are living in poverty and they can escape poverty by this bill coming law.
How do we keep crime down in the United States? We know that involving fathers and positive relationships with their children is one solution. But what are other solutions to keeping crime down and fighting youth violence?
We also have to have after school and summer school to give positive alternatives to our youth. And if we invest in early childhood education, studies show that every dollar we invest there we see improvements in reading scores reduced dropout rates, and reduced delinquencies. So giving young people positive things to do and investing in more police on the street the better off we are going to be.
Alright Jeffery, thank you so much for having me.
JML: Thank you for being on my show, I appreciate your time.
President Obama: Thank you so much – take care.
To listen to the archived interview, please visit: www.DadsRights.com