New York residents may be interested to learn of a dispute playing out in the courts over a father's rights. A Utah resident has filed a lawsuit in federal court against his ex-girlfriend, claiming that the woman unlawfully put his child up for adoption. The suit seeks $130 million in damages and named the adoption agency as a participant in a plan to deprive him of his father's rights.
The young man began dating the child's mother in 2009, but they were no longer together when the baby was born in December of the following year. He claims that they had remained friendly and had agreed to share child custody following the birth. Instead, the day after the boy was born, the mother put him up for adoption. The father was not informed of her decision until a week later, when it was too late for him to stop it. He then filed a paternity action in a Utah state court, which is still pending.
Unbeknownst to the father, the mother was still legally married to another man at the time of the boy's birth. Although the couple was estranged, because they were not yet divorced, the woman's husband was legally considered the father of the child under Utah law, and thus only his consent was required to place the child up for adoption.
When unmarried partners have a child, a family law attorney may be able to help negotiate an agreement establishing each person's rights and responsibilities. The father in this case would have been well advised to file a paternity action before the child's birth.
Source: ABC News, "Dad Files $130M Suit, Alleging His Son Was Unknowingly Put Up for Adoption", Aditi Roy, January 02, 2014