Thursday, March 30, 2006

Men's rights

In regards to the post I made last week regarding “Roe v. Wade for Men” here is another situation that is getting attention.  Unwed fathers who want to raise their children when the mother does not have very little power to override whatever the mother decides. 

In this case it’s a man who did not know that he was a father, but the mother was putting the baby up for adoption.  The father tried to get custody of the child, but was forced out of the equation because he didn’t file with the Putative Father Registry.

      Today, partly as a result of several legal controversies in which unmarried fathers successfully contested adoptions, the majority of states have "putative father registries" by means of which a man can assert his paternity. But the purpose of these registries often seems to be less to protect the rights of the father than to protect the rights of everyone else: the mother who wants to give up the baby, the adoption agency, and the adoptive parents. Some would say that they also protect the rights of the child. But that depends on whether you believe that a child is better off being adopted than being raised by the biological father.

      In most states, the unwed father has to file with the registry either within a certain period of the child's birth—from five to 30 days—or, as in Massachusetts, at any time before the adoption petition is filed. But neither the mother nor the adoption agency has any obligation to notify the man of the adoption, or of the fact that he is a father or father-to-be. Even when the father is notified, he may not be told about the putative father registry—which is what happened to Jones, whose attorney, Allison Perry, refers to the Florida registry as a "well-kept secret." That is the situation in most states. Not only are most men unaware of the registries' existence, even some lawyers don't know about them.

In both cases, whether the father wants responsibility or not, there’s a good argument that what’s good for the woman should be fairly applied to men.  My impression is still that “fairness”, in regards to case law, would indicate that both of these cases will end up giving men this latitude.  I’m only encouraged by the above application of men’s rights, rather than the one in my post last week, will be better for society as a whole.

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