In Maryland, a child born to married parents is considered both the mother and father’s child. However, a child born to unmarried parents is considered to be just the mother’s child. The child is considered the father's only if the father completes any one of the following:
- A court paternity hearing where he is decided to be the actual father
- Acknowledges the fact of fatherhood in writing
- Publicly recognizes the child as his own
- Chooses to marry the mother after the birth of the child, and acknowledges himself, orally or in writing, as the father
- The mother of the child names the father and the father does not sign a denial of paternity
- DNA testing
MD Family Law § 5-306
Affidavit of Parentage
An Affidavit of Parentage means the father’s name is added to the child’s birth certificate. Through signing, both parents agree that the father is a biological and legal parent of the child. After both parents sign, both parties have 60 days to contest the affidavit in writing. After the 60-day period, the affidavit can be challenged only on the basis of fraud, duress, or mistake of fact.
Some states provide a putative father registry, which requires that unmarried fathers be contacted before an adoption can be finalized. While Maryland provides no putative father registry, both presumed fathers and legal fathers must be contacted under law before the adoption goes final. In the event that the birth father cannot be located, courts must make a good faith effort to find the birth father and notify him of the petition to adopt his child. If, after the father has been notified, no response is received within 30 days of the notification, the court sees this as a voluntary termination of parental rights. If the father cannot be located after the 30 day period and the court has made sincere efforts to find the father, the court also sees this as voluntarily termination of birth father rights.
MD Family Law § 5-316