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Man’s attempts to establish paternity denied

February 27, 2013

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed denial of a mother’s two motions to dismiss her child’s father’s paternity actions instituted after her husband attempted to adopt the child.

Mother J.W. had G.W. while she was in a relationship with R.M. R.M. claims to be the child’s father, but he never signed G.W.’s birth certificate or paternity affidavit and didn’t register with the Putative Father Registry. He regularly saw G.W. for about eight months after the child’s birth until J.W. stopped all visitation. She married J.U. in July 2011 and he filed a petition to adopt G.W. in August 2011, to which J.W. consented.

R.M. did not receive notice of the proceedings. Just before the filing of the adoption petition, he signed a petition to establish paternity. The mother sought to dismiss R.M.’s paternity actions, which was denied.

In In the Matter of the Paternity of G.W., J.W. v. R.M.,22A01-1205-JP-234, the judges analyzed the statute establishing the state’s Putative Father Registry, Indiana Code 31-19-5-2, and ruled in favor of the mother.

“The evidence reflects that although Mother disclosed R.M.’s name to the attorney arranging the adoption of G.W. by her husband, she never divulged R.M.’s address. Because both the name and address have to be revealed to fall outside the application of the putative father registry, we find that the provisions of the registry are applicable to R.M,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote. “As R.M. acknowledges that he never registered, we must necessarily conclude that he is not entitled to the notice of the adoption proceeding, and has irrevocably and implicitly consented to the adoption of his minor child to J.U.

“Moreover, other jurisdictions have similarly concluded that a putative father who fails to register with the putative father’s registry has waived his right to notice of adoption proceedings and impliedly consents to the adoption.”

The judges also held that R.M. can’t serve as G.W.’s next of friend to establish paternity because he is barred from establishing paternity pursuant to I.C. 31-14-5-9.
 

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