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Court of Appeals Upholds Putative Father Registry

In the case of Chollette v. Keeling, issued by the Court of Appeals of Virginia on October 6, 2015, the Court upheld service of process upon a birth father through the Putative Father Registry and disallowed his Petition to Invervene in the Adoption of his child.

The Court of Appeals found that Mr. Chollette had no standing to intervene because there was no legally recognized evidence that he was the father.  It is important to note that there was no question that he was infact the birth father of the child.

The opinion states that the birth mother placed the child for adoption over the objection of the birth father.  The attorney for the adoptive parents served notice of the existence of the Putative Father Registry upon the birth father in accordance with the statute, which requires that such information be sent certified mail return receipt requested.  It does not require evidence of actual receipt.  Once the letter and information has been properly sent, the birth father has 10 days to register with the Registry and if he does not, then his consent to the adoption is not required.  The evidence was that the letter was returned by the post office marked "Attempted-Not-Known."

The Court of Appeals noted that the birth father has standing to participate in the adoption only in four situations.  1.  If the parents acknowledge paternity under Virginia Code Section 20-49.1  2.  If paternity is adjudicated under Virginia Code Section 20-49.8  3.  If he is a presumed father under Virginia Code Section 63.2-1202 (D) or 4. if he has registered with the Putative Father Registry.

As noted in a prior blog, however, I have concerns that the PFR may violate the U.S. Consitution's guarantee of due process of law.  And the Virginia Supreme Court has recognized the Tort of Interference with Parental Rights in a situation where law was in fact complied with.

This new decision is important.  But the story does not end there.

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