Putative Father definition

A “putative father” is a man that claims to be the biological father of a child that does not have a legal relationship with them.

A legal relationship is usually not established because the father was not married to the child's mother at the time of birth.

For a father, it is essential to establish a legal connection with his child. That way, they can legally make decisions regarding the child’s care.

A putative father can voluntarily confess to the paternity and have it recorded.

This takes place at a putative father registry.

Many states across the United States have these types of registries available. This makes it much easier for a biological father to legally establish paternity.

If there is no registry in your state, there are other options to establish a legal connection to your child if you are a putative father.

The Purpose of a Putative Father Registry

Every state makes it possible for a father to recognize paternity by choice.

The Federal Social Security act makes it mandatory for states to have procedures to permit fathers to acknowledge paternity.

Recording paternity as a putative father registry allows you to have certain rights.

Some of these include:

  • Notices of termination of parental rights must be given to you
  • Notices of appeal for adoption must be given to you
  • Visitation

Due to this, a father is allowed to fight to maintain their parental rights.

If your state does not have a putative father registry, you can sign an affidavit with the correct state authorities.

States with a Putative Father Registry

Currently, 24 states have a putative father registry established.

If you are an unmarried father in one of these states, you can acknowledge paternity at a putative father registry:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming

In other states, it is possible to assert paternity through a court order. There are also forms that you can file with vital statistics or social service departments.

Different Terms to Describe a “Father”

In the United States, no statute has a definition of “father”. A “legal father” is a man who was married to the mother at the moment of birth.

The man can also legally be the father if the paternity has been clarified by a court or other legal authority.

If paternity hasn’t been settled, a certain status could describe your relationship with the child.

It is important to understand the difference between the terms and their meanings.

Term Meaning
Putative father A man who is supposedly the biological father of a child. However, it has not been legally recognized.
Alleged father A man who claims to be the father of a child without established paternity.
Acknowledged father A man who signed an acknowledgment of paternity and has settled a paternal-child relationship.
Adjudicated father A man who has been found by a court to be the father of a child.
Presumed father A man who is established as the father until the status is legally confirmed or disproven.

How to Establish Paternity

Certain federal requirements must be met to recognize paternity.

The following must be included to create an affidavit in any state:

  • Personal information of the parents. This includes names, current addresses, social security numbers, and dates of birth.
  • Personal information of the child. Including the name of the child, date of birth, and where he or she was born.
  • Signatures of both parents. Depending on the state, the signatures of witnesses and a notary.
  • Joint statement from the parents, explaining it’s understood that signing the document is voluntary and that you recognize your rights, responsibilities, choices, and consequences.
  • Description of the meaning and outcomes of signing the document. You and the other parent can reconsider for a period of up to 60 days.