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Missouri man never gave up in six year custody battle

Six years ago - when supposedly suffering from undiagnosed postpartum depression - a mother signed away parental rights of her 3-month old son to another couple, without ever even first consulting with the child's biological father. Since then the Missouri father has been fighting for custody.

The case stems back to 2004 when the child was born. At the time, the Missouri man did not put his name on the birth certificate, choosing to wait until a paternity test could confirm that the boy was indeed his.

However, after the birth when the mother of the child moved in with another couple - who allegedly convinced her to sign over parental rights - the father had no way to stop the adoption since his name was not on the boy's birth certificate. Days later the man did get a DNA confirmation that he was indeed the boy's father, however, even with that knowledge the legal battle was just beginning.

At one point early in the adoption process the father did take the issue to court, and the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the boy could not be adopted and that the father was to be reunited with his son. However, the father claims that all that really happened was that he started getting monthly visits with his son, and then when the boy was 3-years-old the Jackson County Family Court went against the Supreme Court's decision and awarded the adoption. At this point the couple also changed the boy's name.

However, since then things are finally starting to look up for the Missouri father, as the Western Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled that not only is the boy to be moved back to Missouri at the end of the school year, but that his name must also be changed back and that a reunification plan will be implemented to give custody to the boy's biological father.

While sad that this Missouri man has had to battle for his own child for the past six years, the case does highlight some of the complications that can arise when a child is born out of wedlock. In this case, even though he was added to the birth certificate after the DNA confirmation, it was not enough to ensure custody rights. This is why it's important for unmarried fathers to file a paternity action to make sure that their rights as a father stay intact.

Source: WDAF, "Raytown Man in 6-Year Battle for Custody of Son," Jason Vaughn, 9 Feb 2011

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