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Father blames lost custody on state's short work week

A biological father wanted to establish parental rights before his child was born. A state Supreme Court will decide if a paternity notice filed by the father came too late to prevent the child from being placed up for adoption or if a state government office is to blame.

The man's legal pursuit of child custody began before the baby's birth last year. The pregnancy was the result of a brief relationship with the mother, who was not planning to keep the child. The biological father told the mother that he was willing to assume child custody and would not agree to sign adoption papers.

The 24-year-old unmarried man notified the state's Putative Father Registry a month after learning of the woman's pregnancy. In her final trimester, the woman informed the child's father that she was planning an extended trip out of state.

Since the child's due date was so near, the biological father filed with the Putative Father Registry in the state where the woman was visiting and hired a lawyer. The attorney filed a petition for paternity.

The attorney sent copies of the filing to the state's Office of Vital Records and Statistics on January 12, 2010. A four-day government holiday delayed the official filing of the petition until January 20.

The baby was born prematurely on January 15 and placed with an adoptive family on January 19. A trial court determined that the biological father had filed for custody too late and could not undo the adoption of the child known as "Baby Girl T."

The state Supreme Court will decide in the next few months if the government's filing delay violated the constitutional rights of the biological father.

While this case did not take place in Texas, it is one that some Austin parents can likely relate to. In situations like this one, seeking the advice of an experienced child custody attorney may be helpful.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, "Did Utah four-day work week cost dad rights to his child?" Brooke Adams, Sept. 7, 2011

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