Slightly more than half of the states in this country have laws on the books that acknowledge the reality that a lot of babies are conceived out of wedlock. What has been created as a result is what are called “putative father registries.” Minnesota is one of the states with one.
If you weren’t aware that such a thing existed, don’t be alarmed. Most people likely are in the dark about this element of family law. But if you are one of those men who doesn’t fit the stereotype of the single man who engages in sex without concern for the possible ramifications, it might be a good idea to consult an attorney to learn more about the registry.
These registries got started about 40 years ago. According to legal observers, states began to adopt them with the view that they were a relatively simple way to link unwed fathers to children for the purposes of holding them accountable for child support.
What they require is that a man self-report his sexual activities — specifically listing who he has had sex with. The purported incentive ostensibly is that it informs the state that the father wants to be told if the mother decides to put the child up for adoption. Because it’s supposedly easy to do, failing to register amounts to a father given up his rights.
The problem, in the view of critics, is that there are a lot of flaws in the system. One major one, they say, is that there is no consistency from state to state. All require the listing of a partner. But some insist on knowing more, such as her birth date, eye color, race, social security number and driver’s license. One state wants to know any possible dates of intercourse. That could well be more information than a man may ever have.
And then there is the problem of mobility. If the mother-to-be chooses to move to another state, the information in the state of registry doesn’t go with her. Critics say that protection of a putative father’s rights means he has to file in any state where she might give birth.
Considering all the challenges these issues represent critics suggest that even a fully-informed man with the best of intentions is likely to see his desires swamped by a sea of red tape.
Source: The Atlantic, “Sex and the Single Man: What If Your Partner Has a Kid?” Kevin Noble Maillard, April 21, 2014