Robert G. Smith, PLLC

Man's fight could help New York fathers

A 25-year-old South Carolina man successfully won custody of his daughter after the baby's mother secretly put her up for adoption. Although the couple wasn't married, a law in South Carolina allows fathers to sign up for a registry that will notify them if the child is put up for adoption. New York has a similar law. As a result, the man was told of his daughter's birth and subsequent adoption, which allowed him to take legal action to seek custody.

The baby was adopted by a family outside of the state of South Carolina, which was made possible due to the baby's mixed race. The baby's father is black while the mother is white. In fact, the father believed that racism may have played a role in the mother distancing herself during the pregnancy. Although the couple had originally planned to get married, the father says that he was not allowed to go to doctor's appointments and did not witness the birth of the child.

According to the adoptive parents, they were lied to as well and led to believe that the father was out of the picture. While they campaigned to keep the child, the man fought for his rights as the baby's father. Two weeks after a judge gave the that custody, the adoptive parents returned her to the father.

In a child custody case, the best interests of the child are paramount. Typically, a biological parent will be granted custody whenever he or she can prove that there is no danger to the child in doing so. This may be true even if a parent has a past history of substance abuse, domestic violence or time in jail. An attorney may be able to help establish that a parent should be granted such rights.

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