MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Supreme Court made it easier Friday to terminate the parental rights of fathers who fail to live up to their responsibilities for children born out of wedlock.
The court further defined who is a parent under state law by finding a man who is the biological father of a child born out of wedlock qualifies even if a court has not ruled he is the parent.
Courts can legally designate a man as a child's father, often for child support.
In its ruling Friday, the court upheld a Milwaukee County Circuit Court's termination of the parental rights of a man identified in court records as only James P. for his daughter.
James P. had a relationship with the girl's mother, who had told James P. the girl's father also could be another man she had been seeing. Still, James P. was at the hospital when the girl was born, his insurance paid for her birth and he listed her on his medical insurance policy as his daughter.
He later did not see her for extended periods of time, and county officials sought to end his parental rights for abandonment after they had taken the girl away from her mother.
James P. argued the abandonment statutes do not apply to an "alleged father" of a child. But the circuit court disagreed. He was later determined by a court to be the girl's father.
Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said the ruling only applies to situations in which a man believed to be a child's father helped raise the child but then later disappeared from the child's life. He said it gives county officials another avenue to terminate parental rights.
"The bottom line is we're not going to wait for a court to designate someone as the father," Binger said. "We're going to hold you responsible for all conduct even though the court hasn't said you're the father."
Excellent ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Excellent. It will finally put a stop to this nonsense being pulled by men lately where they decide NOT to sign their child's birth certificates for YEARS and thus perserve their option to turn up anytime, anytime to proclaim their legal 'rights' to disrupt a child's life.
Just as mothers have a time period where if they abandon their children their rights are terminated, so too men should be held to the same standard. Six months to a year is the typical period allotted to mothers and the same period of time, and NO MORE, should be allotted to fathers before termination begins. AND of course, this should include those savvy fathers trying to work the system by delaying establishing paternity to the most optimum moment in time for THEMSELVES.
The bottom line is that the ONLY time that a prodigal father should be allowed to begin paternity proceedings in court PAST THAT SIX MONTHS TO A YEAR TIME PERIOD is if 1) both parents agree; and 2) father can prove that child was hidden from him and he had no knowledge of the birth.
Other then those two scenarios above, no exceptions should be made. So men like John Aylsworth, for instance, who was at the hospital to see his daughters after birth, yet chose to request a DNA test and get paternity established THREE YEARS after the fact should no longer have the option to do this.
Men should NOT be given the right to wait for years and then decide they want to play Dad of the Year and toss everyone else's life into turmoil. Sorry this is unfair to mothers, as well as children. I have personally known mothers who have had their child's fathers disappear for years without signing the child's birth certificate. These men frequently have started other relationships, maybe even gotten married or fathered other children THEN suddenly decide to coming roaring back into a mother and child's life (whom they previously abandoned) and start with a clean slate because they never bothered declaring paternity earlier.
Furthermore, courts are allowing them full custody trials as soon as paternity is finally established with no thought whatsoever of the trauma mothers and children are put through by allowing a virtual stranger to invade their lives. Not to mention that this is a violation of state laws which have already stated that a substantial change in circumstance in the CUSTODIAL parent's household is supposed to be the ONLY situation that launches a custody trial. Not some Daddycomelately having a guilty conscious because he carelessly abandoned a child some years earlier.
If these men want to soothe their guilty conscious, let them negotiate with the child's mother.
Instead, Judges allowing these men to work the system, are permitting them to go over the child's mother head to court and then force her into having to accept the decison of some gender-neutralized, child-free, feminist Judge (whose best friend is probably her cat). This is pretty much the scenario we saw play out in the Bridget Marks situation in New York with all the horror that involved for her, her twins and the millions of other mothers in the same situation. Suddenly these mothers had to worry that some prodigal father was going to show up on their doorstep one day and be permitted a full custody trial; even though mother had been raising their child for years alone due to abandonment by said prodigal.
So let's end this double standard in all 50 states right now just as Wisconsin has done.
Fathers should lose the right to establish paternity after six months to a year UNLESS both parents agree or father can prove he had NO KNOWLEDGE of birth. They should be treated just as mothers would be treated if they abandoned their children and no more of this double standard.