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How the Virginia Putative Father Registry can protect a father

Being recognized as a father grants Virginians certain rights regarding their child. Conversely, failing to be recognized as a father of a child can deny that person those same rights. Fortunately, in 2006, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law that created the Virginia Putative Child Registry. The program is run by the Virginia Department of Social Services (DSS).

The registry is basically a confidential database that protects the rights of all putative fathers registered with the system. A person is considered a putative father if that person is not married to the child's mother or has not adopted the child in question. Someone is also considered a putative father if they have not signed a written agreement specifying that they are the child's father or if a court of law has not determined that this individual is the father.

By signing up with the Putative Father Registry, the father of the child can help protect their rights as a parent. They will be advised if there has been a termination to the parental rights of the child in question or if there has been a change in child custody. They will also be notified if the child that they may be the father of is going through the adoption process.

Anyone putative father who has not signed with the registry can give up some of their rights as a father. These rights include the right to consent to an adoption, to be notified about an adoption hearing or to be notified about any termination of parental rights.

To register, putative fathers need only fill out the proper registry form and mail it to the Virginia DSS. However, any Virginia resident who thinks that they may be the father of child may want to speak with a child custody attorney in order to discover all of the benefits of the registry.

Source:, "The Virginia putative father registry," accessed on Dec. 6, 2015

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