In a recent Court of Appeals case, In re Adoption of K.A.R., the Court discusses the issue of when an unwed biological father’s consent is needed for adoption of a child. In this case, the Mother and Father were very young; 18 and 20, respectively. Upon confirmation that Mother was in fact pregnant, both Father and Mother acknowledged that Father was the biological father. Father attended some prenatal doctor appointments with Mother until she asked him to stop attending with her.
Approximately five months prior to the birth of the child, the Father got a job earning $8.00 dollars an hour and began purchasing supplies for the unborn child. Father bought a crib mattress, a car seat and more than $200.00 in clothing. Even though Mother rebuffed these attempts by Father to provide assistance and support, Father still independently bought items for the unborn child which were commensurate with his financial means and resources. Additionally, Father made it clear throughout the pregnancy that he would not consent to an adoption.
Despite Father’s objections, four days after the child’s birth, Mother placed the child with an adoptive couple (Petitioners) who wanted to adopt the child. The Petitioners filed a Petition for Adoption which indicated they did not believe the biological father’s consent was needed. The trial court concluded that Father’s consent was needed for the adoption because he had provided reasonable support given his financial means prior to the filing of the Petition for Adoption. In addition, the Court stated that despite Mother rebuffing Father’s efforts to provide direct support for the child, he still continued to communicate regularly with the Mother about the pregnancy and his opposition to the adoption. The bright line statutory rule is that a father’s consent is needed for an adoption if he has provided reasonable support given his financial means prior to the filing of the Petition for Adoption. The Petitioners appealed the trial court’s decision that the Father’s consent was necessary to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision that the Father’s consent to the adoption was necessary.
The legal precedent established by cases such as In re Adoption of K.A.R. is always subject to change due to action by the North Carolina General Assembly, decisions by a higher court, or legislative action taken by the Congress of the United States of America. Therefore, it is always imperative to seek the advice of legal counsel that is apprised and familiar with the law as it relates to your case.
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