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Are fathers' rights protected in Louisiana?

One issue that often proves the subject of much debate when it comes to child custody is fathers' rights. It seems that unwed fathers are at a disadvantage in terms of parental rights. Louisiana residents may be interested to learn that some lawmakers are taking steps to protect fathers' rights for unwed men.

A lawmaker from a western state is pushing to move ahead with an electronic, confidential registry that would allow unwed fathers, attorneys, adoption agencies and possibly other states to access paternity filings. Laws in the state currently mandate that an unwed father must exercise his paternal rights prior to the child's birth. In other words, if the birth mother has chosen adoption, the child's father only has until the mother's rights are relinquished to exercise his own paternity rights. This policy as known as "nine months and one day."

The system, which is being proposed in Utah, would protect fathers' rights and is aimed to provide "equity and justice" for unmarried fathers. In particular, the system would be beneficial for men who live out of state, have little information about the mother's plans for medical care or the child's well-being after birth, but have the desire to be involved in the child's life. Some organizations have supported the effort because it is presumably the only way to protect fathers' rights during an interstate adoption process. While not all groups support the effort, Utah numbers among 32 states to maintain some form of putative father registry

A man's marital status should have no bearing on his ability to exercise his rights as a father. Men who feel their fathers' rights have been violated may find benefit in exploring their options under the umbrella of the law. There are laws in place to protect Louisiana fathers, whether married or unmarried, from losing the ability to be present in their children's lives.

Source: sltrib.com, "Lawmaker pushes registry to protect unwed dads' rights," Brooke Adams, June 19, 2013

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