In firm news, the Norton Pelt team is very excited to announce that we won the Best Law Firm Category in the 2023 Best of the Burg contest!   We'd like to extend a big thank you to our community for all of your support - this couldn't have been achieved without you. We look forward to continuing to provide excellent legal services to Fredericksburg and the Commonwealth.

The Basics Of The Virginia Birth Father Registry

The Virginia Birth Father Registry, formerly referred to as the Virginia Putative Father Registry, protects unmarried men’s parental rights. This system was established and maintained by the Virginia Department of Social Services. Before you can understand the need and purpose for this service, you need to comprehend the adoption process fully. 

Let’s look at this through the lens of a step-parent adoption. Step-parent adoptions occur when a mother marries someone, and the person they marry wants to adopt the mother’s child legally. Before that, the birth parent’s parental rights must be terminated. There are three scenarios where this could be accomplished without a contested hearing:

  1. The birth father is no longer alive.
  2. The birth father is unknown. 
  3. The birth father is willing to terminate his parental rights and consent to the adoption. 

The second point listed above is one of the primary reasons the Virginia Birth Father Registry exists. It is for people who believe they may have fathered a child and want to protect their parental rights. They can contact the Virginia Birth Father Registry, which is both free and confidential. It is a database for putative fathers. 

What Defines a “Putative Father?”

Not everyone who has a child is married. Putative fathers could be men who are not married to the child’s mother. (It is important to note that unmarried parents can sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity at the hospital when the child is born to establish their parental rights.) However, the birth father may not be at the hospital when the child is born because they may not have been told. 

The Benefits of the Virginia Birth Father Registry 

Continuing to Look at this through the context of a step-parent adoption: There could be a scenario where the birth mother intentionally worked to cut the biological father out of the process. If the birth father is unaware that he has a child, then a step-parent adoption could potentially proceed without his knowledge and the birth father’s parental rights would be terminated. 

If someone suspects that they have a child, they can contact the Virginia Birth Father Registry. This ensures that someone will notify them if their child is put up for adoption. That is critical because this allows the father to object to the adoption process and could prevent the termination of his parental rights. However, you must contact the Virginia Birth Father Registry within ten days of your child’s birth. 

To sign up, print out this form and mail it within ten days of the child’s birth to: 

Virginia Department of Social Services

801 East Main Street

Richmond, VA 23219 

Speak to a Family Law Attorney at Norton Pelt

The attorneys at Norton Pelt take family law issues very seriously, but we understand the challenges our clients face. We have significant experience with custody, adoption, protective orders, and child support. If you are ready to speak with an attorney, contact us today to schedule your consultation.

The following two tabs change content below.

Norton Pelt, PLC

We work hard to ensure we provide the best legal experience possible and make it a priority to get to know each client so we can help you through virtually every type of legal event you may go through.

Latest posts by Norton Pelt, PLC (see all)