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Daughter returned in emotional fathers' rights case

The majority of child custody cases in Massachusetts and elsewhere center on two parents struggling over the care and control of their shared children. Family courts see a wide range of custody issues, however, and one recent case demonstrates an unusual scenario. The outcome is being viewed as a significant win for fathers' rights.

The case involves a father whose child was adopted without his knowledge or consent. The man is a drill sergeant in the United States Army, and was transferred out-of-state just before his wife was scheduled to give birth to their first child. His wife, however, had different plans, and arranged to put the child up for adoption just days after her husband left the state.

She told the adoption agency that her husband had abandoned the family and had no interest in their child. The adoption agency located an adoptive family and placed the child. When the father found out what had happened to his child in June 2011, he contacted the adoption agency and demanded that his child be returned to him. The agency chose to ignore his complaint, and proceeded to finalize the adoption.

The father filed for child custody, and in a recent hearing a family court judge ruled that the child must be returned to her father by Jan. 16. While this case is unusual, it does serve as a reminder of the importance of taking immediate and aggressive legal action when one's parental rights are threatened, in Massachusetts and elsewhere. This fathers' rights case had a positive outcome largely because the man acted quickly to assert and defend his legal rights to his child.

Source: sltrib.com, "Utah judge upholds decision to give father custody of his child," Brooke Adams, Jan. 4, 2013

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