Putative Fathers Take Note: Revisiting In re Loveheart and Revising the Rule of Notice in Dependency Proceedings in Light of Missouri's Revised Statutes and Putative Father Registry


An increasingly large number of babies are born to unwed parents in the United States every year. This phenomenon is problematical for putative fathers in adoption proceedings because it is difficult to protect such a father’s rights while advancing the child’s best interests. Many states, such as Missouri, have responded by enacting putative father registries. An unwed father may file his intent to claim paternity with the Missouri Putative Father Registry in a postcard to insure notice of any proceeding that may affect his parental rights. However, a Missouri putative father who has not filed with the registry and taken affirmative steps to establish his paternity legally waives his right to consent to adoption in Missouri. As such, a juvenile officer’s petitioning to terminate his parental rights prior to the filing of an adoption petition is unnecessary and serves only to prolong the process. Because a putative father who has not timely availed himself of the registry and affirmatively asserted his paternity has no legal rights or obligations concerning his child, this Note argues that the juvenile officer need only to petition for a declaration that the father has no right to grant or to withhold consent to an adoption proceeding at a particular point in time. Such a policy better fulfills the legislative goals of a putative father registry and is in the best interests of the children. Expediting the adoption process in this fashion has implications not only for Missouri putative fathers, but also unwed fathers in all states that have enacted putative father registries.


Juvenile Law | Law and Gender

Date of this Version

December 2006