As you've probably noticed, the image of the nuclear family is gone and so too are the presumptions that a father and mother need to be married in order to be considered a family. For a lot of fathers across the Gaithersburg area and elsewhere in Maryland, their decision not to marry their partner but still have a child with them does not make them any less of a family. But when it comes to family law matters, their decision is one that can create problems.
Take for example parental rights. As some of our more frequent readers are well aware, unmarried fathers in Maryland first need to establish paternity before they can assert their parental rights. Without paternity, they are not afforded the same protections and rights under the law, including custody and visitation rights. That having been said, we realize this could raise a question among some of our male readers:
Is a paternity test required before an adoption is allowed?
The answer to this question is a tricky one. Although Maryland law does give fathers who have established paternity the right to dispute an adoption, state law only requires consent from one parent in order to finalize an adoption.
This is not to say, however, that an unmarried father should not establish paternity prior to an adoption -- on the contrary. The courts may consider a father's request for custody if the mother has consented to an adoption.
Because most decisions concerning family law matters are based on the child's best interests, it's difficult to say what a family law judge will or will not do in your specific situation. In order to better understand what could happen in your case, you may want to consider speaking to a qualified attorney.
Sources: The People's Law Library of Maryland, "Adoption," Accessed April 5, 2016
The People's Law Library of Maryland, "Paternity," Accessed April 5, 2016