Understanding New Jersey's putative father registry

What is the Putative Father Registry?

New Jersey's Putative Father Registry is a legal mechanism designed to protect the rights of fathers who have not established paternity through marriage or other legal means, yet wish to assert their parental rights. The registry allows men who believe they may have fathered a child to register their information, which can play a crucial role in adoption proceedings and notifications regarding the child.

How Does the Registry Work?

Putative fathers must register before or within a specific time frame after the birth of the child. By doing so, they are entitled to receive notice of any legal proceedings related to the child, including adoption or termination of parental rights. Failure to register typically results in the waiver of a putative father's right to contest the adoption of the child and may limit other legal remedies.

Historical Context and Examples

The concept of a putative father registry was developed in response to cases like Lehr v. Robertson, where a putative father sought to establish his rights but had not been properly notified about the adoption proceedings. The registry aims to strike a balance between protecting the interests of children, biological mothers, adoptive parents, and putative fathers.

Registering as a Putative Father in New Jersey

In New Jersey, registration is straightforward. A man who believes he is the biological father of a child can file a claim of paternity with the registry. This action does not establish legal paternity but does ensure notification rights. For exact procedures and forms, individuals should consult the state's official resources or seek legal counsel.

The Impact on Adoption Proceedings

In adoption cases, the registry plays a pivotal role by ensuring that all potential paternal interests are considered. If a putative father is registered, he must be notified and given the opportunity to assert his parental rights before an adoption can proceed.


Understanding New Jersey's Putative Father Registry is critical for any man who believes he may have fathered a child and wishes to maintain his parental rights. It also informs adoptive parents and agencies about whose consent is necessary for an adoption. By duly registering with the state's Putative Father Registry, putative fathers take an essential step towards safeguarding their rights and responsibilities towards their children.