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Is Facebook a sufficient means to inform a father of a pregnancy?

Many of our Houston readers no doubt use Facebook as a way of communicating with friends and family. However, a recent court case looked at whether or not a Facebook message should be considered enough legal notice to tell a father about a pregnancy.

Recently, an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that a Facebook message was not a sufficient means of communication to inform a man of a pregnancy, where he is the father. A Washington Post article shared the opinions that came from this ruling.

In this case, the woman informed the father of her pregnancy via a Facebook message. At hand though was whether this message was sufficient notice to terminate the man’s parental rights and put the child up for adoption. The father claims he never saw the message.

In the ruling, it was pointed out that the mother had gone to the father’s place of work before sending the Facebook message. When she went to his job though, it is quite possible she did not even know she was pregnant yet. However, the fact that she did go to his job demonstrated she knew where to find him to talk to him about the pregnancy, instead of sending the Facebook message. 

At this point, the Supreme Court has overturned the decisions of two lower courts to terminate the father’s parental rights. The case will now go back to the district court. 

While this case took place in another state, there is a lot for Texas fathers to learn from this case. Aside from what may or may not be considered sufficient notice of a pregnancy, the underlying message is that fathers have rights, including the right to object to an adoption. Rather, the father can push to raise the child himself. 

Of course, issues involving father’s rights and establishing those parental rights can become contentious rather quickly. Each case can also be quite different. An attorney with experience handling fathers’ rights cases can provide guidance around next steps.

Source: The Oklahoman, “Facebook message not enough when terminating father’s parental rights in Oklahoma,” Randy Ellis, Oct. 19, 2014

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