Using the Putative Father Registry to Protect Parental Rights

Family law is complicated. This is particularly true when it comes to deciding who will have the rights and responsibilities associated with caring for children. Whether the issue is child custody after a divorce, determining paternity where a marriage never existed, or adoption, disputes over children can be extremely emotional and complicated. Here we explain one particular aspect of determining a child’s parentage—the putative father registry.

What is the Putative Father Registry?

The Illinois Putative Father Registry exists for the purpose of determining the identity and location of the putative father of a child who is or is expected to be the subject of an adoption proceeding. A putative father is a man who may be a child’s biological father but who was not married to the child’s mother on or before the child’s birth and who has not established paternity through the courts. This registry is mandated by Illinois statute.

The registry allows the putative father to be notified of adoption proceedings. Putative fathers can register as such before a child is born or within 30 days after the child’s birth. Failure to register within the time limits can prevent a father from asserting a legal interest in the child even if he lacked knowledge of the pregnancy or birth of the child.

How Does the Registry Work?

The registry itself is fairly simple. A putative father simply goes to the registry online, clicks on “REGISTER” and follows the instructions. Then, if adoption proceedings begin, those pursuing the adoption are required to notify the putative father so he can take further steps to preserve any parental rights he may have, should he choose to do so.

However, as simple as registration is, it does not accomplish the end goal of asserting one’s parental rights if that is what a putative father wants to do. The only way a putative father can do that is by actually pursuing paternity proceedings. This process is more complicated and you will likely want to seek out the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to proceed with this step. If, however, you have no interest in asserting your parental rights and you simply