Friday, December 11, 2009

2010 Indiana Senate Bill 0070 - SB70 Adoption Paternity

In July of this year as I was reading the opinions of the Indiana Supreme Court I came across a case involving the custody of an unborn child. The mother had filed a petition for the child to be adopted. The father filed a paternity action to stop the adoption. I wrote about this case here.

The trial court ruled that the father had irrevocably consented to the adoption by not filing an objection in the trial court and the Court of Appeals agreed. The Supreme Court disagreed, correctly, and reversed the judgment.

The confusion arose from a discrepancy in the adoption and paternity laws. The local court rules permitted adoption petitions to be filed in any court, but required that all paternity cases "shall be filed" in the Circuit Court. The father complied. The adoptive parents argued to the Superior Court that the father had irrevocably and impliedly consented to the adoption solely because he had not filed a motion to contest the adoption in that court within thirty days of receiving notice.

The Superior Court entered an order finding that the father had failed to file in the Supe-rior Court a timely motion to contest the adoption as required by Indiana Code § 31-19-10-1(b) and, based solely on this ground, it found the father's consent therefore irrevocably implied under Indiana Code § 31-19-9-12(1). The court also found adoption to be in the child's best interests, granted the adoption, and ordered that the father's parental rights be terminated. The father appealed and the judgment was upheld.

The holding was that the statute authorizing the filing of a motion to contest an adoption states: "A person contesting an adoption must file a motion to contest the adoption with the court not later than thirty (30) days after service of notice of the pending adoption." Id. § 31-19-10-1(b) (emphasis added) and that the father did not file with the adoption court. The Supreme Court reversed on the ground that the statute does not specify with particularity what court.

In response I submitted this bill to my state senator, Phil Boots. Senator Boots submitted my proposal to the Legislative Services Agency (LSA) who crafted this bill which was introduced by Senator Boots.

When the bill comes on for hearing I will need people who have gone through a paternity proceeding or objected to an adoption of his child to testify. Please contact me if you can do this.


Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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