Tuesday, August 07, 2007

State wants to know if you might be a dad - Virginia

State wants to know if you might be a dad


The state Department of Social Services wants any man who is not married to a woman but could be the father of a child with her to voluntarily fill out a one-page registration.

The law, which went into effect July 1, is designed to protect men's rights in the case of a future adoption.

State officials emphasized that the confidential database is not an attempt to track sexual activity or partners. But it suggests men register "after relations with new partners or continued relations with the same woman."

Lawmakers passed the law creating the voluntary registry as a way to protect a man's rights and allow the state to notify him more quickly if a child he may have fathered is placed up for adoption.

DSS officials said registering means the state doesn't have to search high and low for the biological father, allowing an adoption to speed along. It also gives papa a chance to block the adoption if he wants to raise the child.

A father can register before a child is born, even if he is not aware of a pregnancy. Also the state suggests registering within 10 days of the birth, of receiving notice to register or within 10 days of discovering fraud by the mother.

If fathers don't file the paperwork, they give up their right for the state to inform them about a possible adoption or if they've lost their parental rights.

The registration doesn't establish paternity, which is a separate process. But DSS officials confirmed that the state's child support enforcement office will have access to the registry.

To register, men are asked to fill out a form they can get at their local DSS office or online at http://www.vaputativefather.com/. The hotline number is (877) IF-DADDY.

The form asks for the name of the mother and potential father along with his Social Security number and employment information, and it contains questions that try to pinpoint where and when the man and woman may have conceived the child.

The state requires the men to sign the form and mail it to Richmond, said Carla Harris, a DSS spokeswoman. Registration is free.

If the form contains the address of the woman, she will be notified.

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