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March 02, 2024 Rain | 46°F
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 4A: Fathers of children born out of wedlock; adoption rights

Section 4A. Whenever the mother of a child born out of wedlock has surrendered the child in accordance with section two, or whenever the right of such mother to withhold consent for adoption has been terminated in accordance with section three, notice of such surrender or termination and a right to petition for adoption shall be afforded to any person who, prior to such surrender or termination, has filed a declaration seeking to assert the responsibilities of fatherhood, hereinafter called a parental responsibility claim, or has been adjudicated the father of the child, except when a decree has been issued pursuant to section three dispensing with the need of consent of said father. The paternal responsibility claim shall be filed with the department of children and families, hereinafter called the department, on a form prescribed by the department. The department shall provide the person filing with evidence of the filing within five days and shall at the same time, send notice of the filing to such mother by registered mail at her address as stated on the paternal responsibility claim or to such other address as the department determines to be correct after making every reasonable effort to locate such mother. Such filing shall constitute an acknowledgment and admission of paternity.

Upon request of any person or agency receiving a child for the purpose of adoption, the department shall examine all paternal responsibility claims filed with it and shall within five days provide an affidavit to such person or agency stating whether or not there has been a paternal responsibility claim filed with respect to such child. If such a paternal responsibility claim has been filed, the department shall, notify the person claiming paternity by registered mail, at the address stated on said paternal responsibility claim, that the child is in the care of a licensed placement agency which is planning for the adoption of the child. A copy of the notice shall be sent to the person or agency requesting the affidavit. The person claiming paternity may within thirty days from the date of mailing of said notice by the department file a petition for adoption or custody of such child in the probate court of the county where the agency is located. If he fails to do so, he shall not be entitled to notice of any subsequent proceeding concerning custody, guardianship, or adoption of the child. The court shall consider the case as expeditiously as possible, and, without regard to other potential adoptive parents, shall allow the petition of the person claiming paternity if it finds that such adoption or custody is in the child's best interest and if it finds that such person is the father of the child. The court on its own motion may order the production of any evidence to determine if the petitioner is the father of the child. Any such petition shall be subject to clause (E) of section two A. Any costs incurred for the temporary care of the child pending the hearing on the petition of the person claiming paternity shall be borne by said person.

No other petition for adoption shall be allowed without proof of compliance with this section.