Adopting your stepchildren can strengthen the ties of your Georgia family and give those children the security they need after being involved in their parents’ divorce. However, before the adoption process can begin, you and your spouse may require consent from one or more parties.
American Adoptions notes that a Georgia birth father has several rights when it comes to his child’s adoption by another, and you may want to understand what they are before you and your spouse proceed with a stepchild adoption.
Rights must prevail in the process
Georgia law states that once a birth father proves paternity, his rights and wishes cannot be ignored by his ex-spouse or anyone else involved in the upcoming adoption. The father can also refuse consent for his child’s adoption, even if you and your current spouse wish it. Under state law, you must notify the birth father about the intent to adopt, even if he does not see his child.
Rights are not absolute
While a birth father in Georgia is entitled to deny consent for adoption by your current spouse, there are some circumstances under which those rights might be terminated. These may include a variety of factors, including:
- Paternal abandonment
- A lack of financial support as ordered by a court
- Mental illness that affects reasonable decision-making processes
Some of these circumstances may allow you and your spouse to proceed with the adoption without your ex-husband’s consent; however, your individual case may include other factors that could delay the adoption process.
Georgia fathers may further protect their rights by applying with a state registry that lists them as the father of a child. While this can help them exercise their parental rights, it is not a guarantee of custody.