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What happens if one parent is unknown?

In most custody cases, there are two biological parents involved. However, there are also situations where adoptive parents, grandparents and even legal custodians are party to the case. One issue that can come up in some of the more complicated child custody cases is what to do when the whereabouts or identity of one parent is unknown. This is most often an issue in the case of adoption, whether via grandparent, stepparent or a traditional adoption situation.

In the state of Florida, the courts use several means to try to identify or locate a parent in these types of custody situations to be sure that everything is in accordance with the laws and no one's parental rights are being violated. Possible issues that may come up include the marital status of the child's mother at the time of the birth and whether the mother listed a father on the child's birth certificate.

Evidence or testimony that the mother was living with a man in a romantic relationship around the time of the child's probable conception or that she has been given payments from a man claiming to be the child's father may also be considered. If a man has claimed paternity of the child, there will likely still need to be a DNA test done to prove paternity before moving forward.

Any child custody case can get complicated quickly. However, if you are involved in a custody dispute or an adoption involving one of the situations listed above, it is best to get legal counsel from an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.

Source: The 2015 Florida Statutes, "39.01 Definitions," accessed Dec. 31, 2015

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