Abstract

ESTABLISHING THE BIOLOGICAL RIGHTS DOCTRINE TO PROTECT UNWED FATHERS IN CONTESTED ADOPTIONS

TONI L. CRAIG

Copyright 1998 Florida State University Law Review

In In re Adoption of Baby E.A.W., the Florida Supreme Court's held that an unwed father's emotional and financial support of the mother while she was pregnant was relevant in determining whether the father has abandoned the child This Comment explains how this rule of law violates the Due Process Clause of the Federal Constitution. Further, this Comment argues that this rule harms the interests of preserving family ties as a matter of policy and that the Legislature should modify the standard adopted by the Florida Supreme Court. Part II of this Comment distinguishes at-birth adoption cases from other unwed father cases. Part III explains the biological rights doctrine and its underlying policies. Part IV reviews the historical and modern treatment of the rights of biological parents. Part V reviews several competing interests that have diminished the biological rights doctrine. Part VI reviews chapter 63, Florida Statutes, in the context of the three types of contested at-birth adoption cases to demonstrate that the current law is unconstitutional. Part VII makes recommendations for revising chapter 63, Florida Statutes. Part VIII compares past legislative efforts to these recommendations. This Comment concludes that legislating a preference for biological fathers over adoptive parents is one way to ensure due process protection for fathers and to provide appropriate constitutional guidelines in an area that the United States Supreme Court has not yet addressed.

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