Adoption; grandparent visitation

The House Judiciary Committee heard HB 1448 on adoption and grandparent visitation authored by Rep. Torr.  The bill:

  • Provides that venue for a proceeding concerning a petition to appoint a legal guardian that is anticipated to be uncontested is in the county in which the attorney for the petitioner maintains an office.
  • Provides that venue for a proceeding for appointment of a legal guardian for purposes of an adoption proceeding is in the court in which the adoption action is pending.
  • Requires a man who files a paternity affidavit to register with the putative father registry.
  • Provides that a man whose: (1) parent-child relationship with a child has been terminated; or (2) consent to termination of the man’s parent-child relationship with the child is irrevocably implied under Indiana law; may not establish paternity of the child by filing a paternity affidavit.
  • Provides that if a child is the subject of a petition for adoption and a noncustodial parent of the child files a motion to contest the adoption, a court may not grant the noncustodial parent parenting time rights with the child while the adoption action is pending.
  • Requires a man who: (1) is party to a paternity action with regard to a child; and (2) learns of a contemporaneous action to terminate parental rights with regard to the child; to provide notice of the paternity action to the court in which the termination action is pending.
  • Provides for circumstances under which a petitioner for termination of parental rights with regard to a child may intervene in a contemporaneous paternity action regarding the child.
  • Provides that an individual who is not a resident of Indiana may file a petition for adoption of a child in Indiana in the same manner as an Indiana resident.
  • Provides that an attorney may file a petition for adoption in the probate court of the county in which the attorney maintains an office.
  • Provides that if: (1) an individual who files a petition for adoption of a child decides not to adopt the child or is unable to adopt the child; and (2) a second or amended petition is filed to adopt the child; a required notice that was provided with regard to the original petition satisfies the same notice requirement for purposes of the second or amended petition.
  • Repeals provisions regarding adoption of a hard to place child by an individual who is not an Indiana resident.
  • Removes requirements for filing multiple copies of an adoption petition.
  • Provides that if a petition for termination of parental rights with regard to a child is pending at the same time as a paternity action is pending with regard to the child, the paternity action and the termination action must be consolidated, with the court in the termination action assuming jurisdiction over the paternity action.
  • Adds statutory requirements for service of notice of an adoption, replacing requirements under current law that provide for notice to be served according to Indiana trial rules regarding service of summons.
  • Provides that if a child who is the subject of an adoption proceeding was conceived in a state other than Indiana in which a putative father registry was in existence at the time of the child’s conception, a putative father must register with: (1) that state’s putative father registry by the date by which a putative father must register to be entitled to notice of the adoption in that state; or (2) the Indiana putative father registry by the date by which a putative father must register to be entitled to notice of the adoption in Indiana; to be entitled to notice of the child’s adoption.
  • Specifies that an individual who is entitled to notice of an adoption is entitled to the notice regardless of the individual’s gender.
  • Provides that a putative father must register with the putative father registry to be entitled to notice of proceedings for adoption or for termination of the parent-child relationship.
  • Provides that a child’s grandparent has the right to seek visitation when certain conditions are met.
  • Permits a petitioner in an adoption proceeding to provide notice of the adoption to a grandparent of the child.
  • Allows a petition for visitation to be filed after a child is adopted, unless the grandparent does not file a petition for visitation within 30 days after receiving notice of the adoption.
  • Provides that if: (1) a prospective adoptive parent resides in a state other than Indiana; and (2) the laws of the other state allow persons other than licensed child placing agencies to perform pre-adoption assessments of prospective adoptive parents; written approval by a person allowed to perform preadoption assessments in the other state satisfies the requirement that placement of a child with the prospective adoptive parent must be approved by a licensed child placing agency or by the department of child services.
  • Provides that a putative father’s consent to adoption of a child is not required if the putative father has established paternity of the child in a paternity proceeding or by filing a paternity affidavit, unless a genetic test: (1) ordered by the court in the paternity proceeding; or (2) submitted by the putative father in connection with the paternity affidavit; has identified the putative father as the biological father of the child.
  • Allows: (1) a written consent to adoption to be executed in paper or electronic form; and (2) a consent in electronic form to be signed by electronic signature and submitted electronically.
  • Provides that if a consent to adoption executed by a birth parent contains a statement that the birth parent consents unconditionally to the adoption of the child without reservation of any parental rights whatsoever, the agreement, understanding, or belief of the birth parent, or of petitioner for adoption of the child, that the birth parent will: (1) be allowed postadoption visitation with the child; or (2) be provided with postadoption updates regarding the child; does not invalidate the birth parent’s consent to the adoption, invalidate the adoption, invalidate the birth parent’s voluntary consent to termination of the parent’s parent-child relationship with the child, or invalidate the voluntary termination of the parent’s parent-child relationship with the child.
  • Requires an individual or agency that arranges for the signing of a consent to an adoption to: (1) provide each consenting birth parent with a written statement identifying the court in which the adoption has or will be filed; or (2) provide each consenting birth parent with the name and location of the court not later than 10 days after the birth parent signs the consent, if: (A) the court is not known to the individual or agency at the time the consent is signed; or (B) the consenting birth parent requests the information.
  • Provides that consent to a child’s adoption is not required from: (1) a biological mother who illegally used a controlled substance or controlled substance analog during the pregnancy, at a time at which the biological mother knew or should have known that she was pregnant; or (2) a biological father who, during the pregnancy: (A) offered to pay for an abortion of the child; or (B) otherwise attempted to persuade the child’s biological mother to abort the child.
  • Provides that consent to an adoption by a putative father, or by certain other parties entitled to notice of the adoption, is irrevocably implied if the putative father or other party files a motion to contest the adoption and the motion is dismissed for failure of the putative father or other party to: (1) diligently prosecute the motion; (2) comply with procedural rules and statutes governing contested adoptions; (3) obey an order of the court; or (4) appear, after proper notice, at a hearing relating to the motion to contest the adoption; or the motion is otherwise denied by the court.
  • Specifies that a motion to contest an adoption or to withdraw consent to an adoption must: (1) be submitted in writing to the court in which the petition for adoption is filed; and (2) set forth the basis for the motion.
  • Provides that if: (1) a petition for adoption alleges that a parent’s consent to the adoption is unnecessary under Indiana law; (2) the parent files a motion to contest the adoption; and (3) the petitioner for adoption presents clear and convincing evidence of the parent’s failure to communicate with or support the child for one year; the parent has the burden of proving a justifiable cause for the failure.
  • Provides that if a party that files a motion to contest an adoption fails to: (1) diligently prosecute the motion; (2) comply with procedural rules and statutes governing contested adoptions; (3) obey an order of the court; or (4) appear, after proper notice, at a hearing relating to the motion to contest the adoption; the court shall dismiss the motion, and the party’s consent to the adoption is irrevocably implied.
  • Provides that a court that dismisses a person’s motion to contest an adoption due to the person’s failure to appear at a hearing related to the motion may set aside the dismissal if, not later than five days after the dismissal, the person files a motion with the court setting forth facts that: (1) establish good cause for the person’s failure to appear; and (2) if proven, demonstrate that the person’s failure to appear was not voluntary.
  • Provides that if a petition for adoption alleges that a parent’s consent to the adoption is unnecessary, the court may not consider: (1) the parent’s substance abuse; (2) the parent’s voluntary unemployment; or (3) instability of the parent’s household caused by a family or household member of the parent; as justifiable cause for the parent’s abandonment or desertion of, or failure to communicate with, the child.
  • Provides for posthumous adoption: (1) by one or more prospective adoptive parents of a child who dies during the child’s preadoption placement with the prospective adoptive parent or parents; (2) of a child by one or more prospective adoptive parents who die during the child’s preadoption placement with the prospective adoptive parent or parents; and (3) of a child by a deceased spouse of the child’s parent.
  • Provides that a parent of a child is not entitled to notice of a proceeding for termination of the parent-child relationship if the parent’s consent to the termination is: (1) irrevocably implied; or (2) not required; under Indiana law.
  • Provides that the department of child services shall not attempt, for purposes of a proceeding to terminate a parent-child relationship, to identify or contact a putative father whose consent to termination of the parent-child relationship is irrevocably implied under Indiana law.
  • Provides that the following individuals are not entitled to notice of a hearing regarding a petition to terminate the parent-child relationship of a child in need of services: (1) A parent whose consent to adoption of the child is not required, if: (A) the child’s permanency plan or concurrent plan includes adoption; and (B) a petition has been filed for the child’s adoption. (2) A putative father whose consent to termination of the parent-child relationship is irrevocably implied under Indiana law.

The Committee amended the bill by consent to remove numerous sections.  The amendment removes new provisions on venue for the appointment of a guardian, the definition of “open adoption”, and denial of parenting time for a noncustodial parent contesting adoption.  The amendment also removes new provisions on notice of adoption for putative father and grandparents, and notice to parents of termination of parent-child relationship proceedings.  In addition, the amendment removes new provisions for pre-adoption assessments by agencies outside Indiana, posthumous adoptions, and consent to adoption provisions.  Adoption attorney Steve Kirsch testified in support of the bill.  The amended bill passed 12-0.

Read the bill at:  http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2021/bills/house/1448