Looking For a Father

I’m doing a bit of travelling and so have only time for something quick.  On the train today I was reading the New York Times, far more thoroughly than I usually do.   There’s something in it worthy of mention, but I cannot post to it.  It’s on page B3 (that’s the third page of the business section.)  IT’s a small box next to the article about the failure of legislation to allow bankruptcy judge’s to modify mortgages.

It’s a legal notice.  It’s captioned   “In the Circuit Court of Monongalia County, West Virgina.”  It’s the required notice to a putative father–a man who may assert that he is the father of a particular child.   It recites that the state of West Virginia has identified Rudolph Gittens as the putative father of Cassie Gittens, DOB 9/7/08.  Any person who purports to have legal rights to this child is invited to appear in court.   (Oddly, the date listed in January 22, 2009.  Appearing on that date,  given that the notice is in today’s paper, would be a bit of a trick.)

There’s nothing really unusual about this, except that I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a notice in the New York Times before.   But the general idea is rather ordinary.

If a person is a parent to a child  (maybe even if the person has a pretty good claim to be a parent under on or another theory) then they may be entitled to a hearing before his/her rights are terminated or otherwise impaired.   But if the person or his/her whereabouts is unknown–if this is a one-night-stand guy, say–how do you give them notice of that hearing?

That’s what this is.  It may seem absurd to think that anyone would actually get notice of a hearing when it’s printed way back in the business section of the New York Times (or any other paper, for that matter).   But if it’s all you can do, it’s all you can do.  And that’s essentially when you are allowed to use notice by publication–when it is all you can do.

It seems curious to me because you’d think of the person was a parent in any real sense of the word, they’d have some clue what was going on with the child.   But since probably no one ever sees these, maybe it does no harm?  Of course, it isn’t clear that it does any good, either.

Just a little nugget of knowledge.


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