Last week, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law the Parental Equity Act, paving a new way for unwed birth fathers. The Parental Equity Act aims to bring equality to birth fathers by granting them a full and fair hearing regarding their fitness and ability to care for children who were moved into foster care by the state.
Previously, a biological father was only allowed to contest his child’s adoption only if he maintained constant contact with the child and financially supported the child. While critics believe this bill will cause adoption proceedings to become more complicated and expensive, backers of the bill believe the prior bill caused an unreasonable burden for unwed fathers, treated their bond with their child to be inferior to a mother’s and caused fathers to lose the bond with their child without being given the benefit of a trial. Now, the Parental Equity Act provides clear steps a father can take to protect his legal right to maintain a relationship with his children.