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Thread: Stepparent Adoption

  1. #1
    moveslikejagger is offline Junior Member
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    Stepparent Adoption

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Indiana

    Background:
    My daughter's dad and I split up when I was 14 weeks pregnant. Never married. Met my now husband 1 month later, dated for 7 years been married for 1.


    My daughter is 7 (almost 8) and her dad has not called/seen her in almost a year(9 weeks short). This is the second time in her life he has stopped all communication. The first was for 9 months when she was 4 months old until she was 13 months old. From late 2006-Oct 2012 he exercised his visitation and saw her on most of his weekends. Our daughter had a hard time bonding with him and never wanted to see her dad, but I would take her every weekend and put her in the car kicking and screaming because I knew that's what I had to do and I wanted them to have a relationship. As she got older it only continued to get worse. He would see her on his weekends, but he wasn't real involved in any other aspects of her life..seldom came to sporting activities, didn't show up to kindergarten graduation, wasn't present for school activities, never picked her up or dropped her off his weekends..it was always his mom, and overall just didn't show a real interest in her outside of his every other weekend visitation. On the last weekend that he saw her in October he was there to pick her up and our daughter threw a fit said some terrible things like "he is going to kill me" and I reacted emotionally and told him I was taking her home. I put her in my car and he opened her door and told her that he would take me to court and she would have to live with him since I was denying him visitation. He has never contacted her again. All of my contact information has stayed the same.

    It's now 9 weeks short of a year and he has had no communication with her. She has a real connection with my husband and always had. She does not call him dad, but she writes his last name on all of her school papers and was not happy when I would not register her for school this year with his last name. For all of her life he has taken up the slack where her dad was not involved. If her dad does go for a year without any significant contact with his daughter the way I understand Indiana law is that I would be able to file for my husband to adopt my daughter without her dads consent, but that he would be given 30 days to contest the adoption. If he does contest and we go before a judge what are my chances of a judge ruling that my husband can adopt her? Of course, as a mother, I want stability for my daughter and for her to not have to worry when/if her dad will be in her life and when he will opt out of being a parent again. It's hard for me to not look at this from an emotional standpoint. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you
  2. #2
    AnonUserName is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by moveslikejagger View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Indiana

    Background:
    My daughter's dad and I split up when I was 14 weeks pregnant. Never married. Met my now husband 1 month later, dated for 7 years been married for 1.


    My daughter is 7 (almost 8) and her dad has not called/seen her in almost a year(9 weeks short). This is the second time in her life he has stopped all communication. The first was for 9 months when she was 4 months old until she was 13 months old. From late 2006-Oct 2012 he exercised his visitation and saw her on most of his weekends. Our daughter had a hard time bonding with him and never wanted to see her dad, but I would take her every weekend and put her in the car kicking and screaming because I knew that's what I had to do and I wanted them to have a relationship. As she got older it only continued to get worse. He would see her on his weekends, but he wasn't real involved in any other aspects of her life..seldom came to sporting activities, didn't show up to kindergarten graduation, wasn't present for school activities, never picked her up or dropped her off his weekends..it was always his mom, and overall just didn't show a real interest in her outside of his every other weekend visitation. On the last weekend that he saw her in October he was there to pick her up and our daughter threw a fit said some terrible things like "he is going to kill me" and I reacted emotionally and told him I was taking her home. I put her in my car and he opened her door and told her that he would take me to court and she would have to live with him since I was denying him visitation. He has never contacted her again. All of my contact information has stayed the same.

    It's now 9 weeks short of a year and he has had no communication with her. She has a real connection with my husband and always had. She does not call him dad, but she writes his last name on all of her school papers and was not happy when I would not register her for school this year with his last name. For all of her life he has taken up the slack where her dad was not involved. If her dad does go for a year without any significant contact with his daughter the way I understand Indiana law is that I would be able to file for my husband to adopt my daughter without her dads consent, but that he would be given 30 days to contest the adoption. If he does contest and we go before a judge what are my chances of a judge ruling that my husband can adopt her? Of course, as a mother, I want stability for my daughter and for her to not have to worry when/if her dad will be in her life and when he will opt out of being a parent again. It's hard for me to not look at this from an emotional standpoint. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you
    Does he pay child support? Is there a court order in place for visitation/ support?
  3. #3
    moveslikejagger is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnonUserName View Post
    Does he pay child support? Is there a court order in place for visitation/ support?
    Yes, his support is garnished. There is court ordered visitation and support in place.
  4. #4
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    Then there is no abandonment and you will not be able to have his rights terminated without his agreement.
  5. #5
    sandyclaus is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by moveslikejagger View Post
    Yes, his support is garnished. There is court ordered visitation and support in place.
    Then regardless of whether or not he visits, he has contact with the child (regular payment of child support IS contact).

    You're going to need the father's permission before the court will grant permission for a stepparent adoption. There are no grounds to involuntarily terminate the father's parental rights at this point.
  6. #6
    AnonUserName is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandyclaus View Post
    Then regardless of whether or not he visits, he has contact with the child (regular payment of child support IS contact).

    You're going to need the father's permission before the court will grant permission for a stepparent adoption. There are no grounds to involuntarily terminate the father's parental rights at this point.
    I'm looking at Indiana step parent adoption laws and I'm reading it to be that failure to maintain contact for 1 year is enough grounds. I've only found this info on attorneys websites and I'm looking for the applicable statute to confirm.
  7. #7
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnonUserName View Post
    I'm looking at Indiana step parent adoption laws and I'm reading it to be that failure to maintain contact for 1 year is enough grounds. I've only found this info on attorneys websites and I'm looking for the applicable statute to confirm.


    You're actually correct.

    It's not JUST financial support - if the parent fails to maintain significant contact with the child, it can be grounds.

    Read here:

    http://www.kidsvoicein.org/documents...optionin/1.pdf


    "Child support = contact" is a party line used often here and it's simply NOT always accurate.
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  8. #8
    AnonUserName is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proserpina View Post
    You're actually correct.

    It's not JUST financial support - if the parent fails to maintain significant contact with the child, it can be grounds.

    Read here:

    http://www.kidsvoicein.org/documents...optionin/1.pdf


    "Child support = contact" is a party line used often here and it's simply NOT always accurate.
    I think for most states support does equal contact and even I assumed the same for IN when I first questioned the OP regarding support.

    http://bcchildadvocates.blogspot.com/2011/04/important-note-on-stepparent-adoption.html

    I think this link is important to read as well as the one you posted.
  9. #9
    moveslikejagger is offline Junior Member
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    IC 31-19-9-8
    Consent to adoption not required; written denial of paternity precludes challenge to adoption
    Sec. 8. (a) Consent to adoption, which may be required under section 1 of this chapter, is not required from any of the following:
    (1) A parent or parents if the child is adjudged to have been abandoned or deserted for at least six (6) months immediately preceding the date of the filing of the petition for adoption.
    (2) A parent of a child in the custody of another person if for a period of at least one (1) year the parent:
    (A) fails without justifiable cause to communicate significantly with the child when able to do so; or
    (B) knowingly fails to provide for the care and support of the child when able to do so as required by law or judicial decree.
    (3) The biological father of a child born out of wedlock whose paternity has not been established:
    (A) by a court proceeding other than the adoption proceeding; or
    (B) by executing a paternity affidavit under IC 16-37-2-2.1.
    (4) The biological father of a child born out of wedlock who was conceived as a result of:
    (A) a rape for which the father was convicted under IC 35-42-4-1;
    (B) child molesting (IC 35-42-4-3);
    (C) sexual misconduct with a minor (IC 35-42-4-9); or
    (D) incest (IC 35-46-1-3).
    (5) The putative father of a child born out of wedlock if the putative father's consent to adoption is irrevocably implied under section 15 of this chapter.
    (6) The biological father of a child born out of wedlock if the:
    (A) father's paternity is established after the filing of a petition for adoption in a court proceeding or by executing a paternity affidavit under IC 16-37-2-2.1; and
    (B) father is required to but does not register with the putative father registry established by IC 31-19-5 within the period required by IC 31-19-5-12.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (7) A parent who has relinquished the parent's right to consent to adoption as provided in this chapter.
    (8) A parent after the parent-child relationship has been terminated under IC 31-35 (or IC 31-6-5 before its repeal).
    (9) A parent judicially declared incompetent or mentally defective if the court dispenses with the parent's consent to adoption.
    (10) A legal guardian or lawful custodian of the person to be adopted who has failed to consent to the adoption for reasons found by the court not to be in the best interests of the child.
    (11) A parent if:
    (A) a petitioner for adoption proves by clear and convincing evidence that the parent is unfit to be a parent; and
    (B) the best interests of the child sought to be adopted would be served if the court dispensed with the parent's consent.
    (12) A child's biological father who denies paternity of the child before or after the birth of the child if the denial of paternity:
    (A) is in writing;
    (B) is signed by the child's father in the presence of a notary public; and
    (C) contains an acknowledgment that:
    (i) the denial of paternity is irrevocable; and
    (ii) the child's father will not receive notice of adoption proceedings.
    A child's father who denies paternity of the child under this subdivision may not challenge or contest the child's adoption.
    (b) If a parent has made only token efforts to support or to communicate with the child the court may declare the child abandoned by the parent.
    As added by P.L.1-1997, SEC.11. Amended by P.L.197-1997, SEC.18

    I do know that I can file without his consent on grounds of no significant contact for 1 year. My question is more aimed at what my chances are of getting a judge to approve a stepparent adoption?
  10. #10
    AnonUserName is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by moveslikejagger View Post
    IC 31-19-9-8
    Consent to adoption not required; written denial of paternity precludes challenge to adoption
    Sec. 8. (a) Consent to adoption, which may be required under section 1 of this chapter, is not required from any of the following:
    (1) A parent or parents if the child is adjudged to have been abandoned or deserted for at least six (6) months immediately preceding the date of the filing of the petition for adoption.
    (2) A parent of a child in the custody of another person if for a period of at least one (1) year the parent:
    (A) fails without justifiable cause to communicate significantly with the child when able to do so; or
    (B) knowingly fails to provide for the care and support of the child when able to do so as required by law or judicial decree.
    (3) The biological father of a child born out of wedlock whose paternity has not been established:
    (A) by a court proceeding other than the adoption proceeding; or
    (B) by executing a paternity affidavit under IC 16-37-2-2.1.
    (4) The biological father of a child born out of wedlock who was conceived as a result of:
    (A) a rape for which the father was convicted under IC 35-42-4-1;
    (B) child molesting (IC 35-42-4-3);
    (C) sexual misconduct with a minor (IC 35-42-4-9); or
    (D) incest (IC 35-46-1-3).
    (5) The putative father of a child born out of wedlock if the putative father's consent to adoption is irrevocably implied under section 15 of this chapter.
    (6) The biological father of a child born out of wedlock if the:
    (A) father's paternity is established after the filing of a petition for adoption in a court proceeding or by executing a paternity affidavit under IC 16-37-2-2.1; and
    (B) father is required to but does not register with the putative father registry established by IC 31-19-5 within the period required by IC 31-19-5-12.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (7) A parent who has relinquished the parent's right to consent to adoption as provided in this chapter.
    (8) A parent after the parent-child relationship has been terminated under IC 31-35 (or IC 31-6-5 before its repeal).
    (9) A parent judicially declared incompetent or mentally defective if the court dispenses with the parent's consent to adoption.
    (10) A legal guardian or lawful custodian of the person to be adopted who has failed to consent to the adoption for reasons found by the court not to be in the best interests of the child.
    (11) A parent if:
    (A) a petitioner for adoption proves by clear and convincing evidence that the parent is unfit to be a parent; and
    (B) the best interests of the child sought to be adopted would be served if the court dispensed with the parent's consent.
    (12) A child's biological father who denies paternity of the child before or after the birth of the child if the denial of paternity:
    (A) is in writing;
    (B) is signed by the child's father in the presence of a notary public; and
    (C) contains an acknowledgment that:
    (i) the denial of paternity is irrevocable; and
    (ii) the child's father will not receive notice of adoption proceedings.
    A child's father who denies paternity of the child under this subdivision may not challenge or contest the child's adoption.
    (b) If a parent has made only token efforts to support or to communicate with the child the court may declare the child abandoned by the parent.
    As added by P.L.1-1997, SEC.11. Amended by P.L.197-1997, SEC.18

    I do know that I can file without his consent on grounds of no significant contact for 1 year. My question is more aimed at what my chances are of getting a judge to approve a stepparent adoption?
    That's anyone's guess. Look at the link I posted. Does any of the following apply?

    [A] party petitioning to adopt without parental consent has the burden of proving both a lack of communication for the statutory period and that the ability to communicate during that time period existed. Whether this burden has been met is necessarily dependent upon the facts and circumstances of each particular case, including, for example, the custodial parent‟s willingness to permit visitation as well as the natural parent‟s financial and physical means to accomplish his obligations. Efforts of a custodial parent to hamper or thwart communication between parent and child are relevant in determining the ability to communicate. However, in order to preserve the consent requirement for adoption, the level of communication with the child must be significant, and also must be more than “token efforts” on the part of the parent to communicate with the child. The reasonable intent of the statute is to encourage non-custodial parents to maintain communication with their children and to discourage non-custodial parents from visiting their children just often enough to thwart the adoptive parents‟ efforts to provide a settled environment for the children.
  11. #11
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by moveslikejagger View Post
    IC 31-19-9-8
    Consent to adoption not required; written denial of paternity precludes challenge to adoption
    Sec. 8. (a) Consent to adoption, which may be required under section 1 of this chapter, is not required from any of the following:
    (1) A parent or parents if the child is adjudged to have been abandoned or deserted for at least six (6) months immediately preceding the date of the filing of the petition for adoption.
    (2) A parent of a child in the custody of another person if for a period of at least one (1) year the parent:
    (A) fails without justifiable cause to communicate significantly with the child when able to do so; or
    (B) knowingly fails to provide for the care and support of the child when able to do so as required by law or judicial decree.
    (3) The biological father of a child born out of wedlock whose paternity has not been established:
    (A) by a court proceeding other than the adoption proceeding; or
    (B) by executing a paternity affidavit under IC 16-37-2-2.1.
    (4) The biological father of a child born out of wedlock who was conceived as a result of:
    (A) a rape for which the father was convicted under IC 35-42-4-1;
    (B) child molesting (IC 35-42-4-3);
    (C) sexual misconduct with a minor (IC 35-42-4-9); or
    (D) incest (IC 35-46-1-3).
    (5) The putative father of a child born out of wedlock if the putative father's consent to adoption is irrevocably implied under section 15 of this chapter.
    (6) The biological father of a child born out of wedlock if the:
    (A) father's paternity is established after the filing of a petition for adoption in a court proceeding or by executing a paternity affidavit under IC 16-37-2-2.1; and
    (B) father is required to but does not register with the putative father registry established by IC 31-19-5 within the period required by IC 31-19-5-12.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (7) A parent who has relinquished the parent's right to consent to adoption as provided in this chapter.
    (8) A parent after the parent-child relationship has been terminated under IC 31-35 (or IC 31-6-5 before its repeal).
    (9) A parent judicially declared incompetent or mentally defective if the court dispenses with the parent's consent to adoption.
    (10) A legal guardian or lawful custodian of the person to be adopted who has failed to consent to the adoption for reasons found by the court not to be in the best interests of the child.
    (11) A parent if:
    (A) a petitioner for adoption proves by clear and convincing evidence that the parent is unfit to be a parent; and
    (B) the best interests of the child sought to be adopted would be served if the court dispensed with the parent's consent.
    (12) A child's biological father who denies paternity of the child before or after the birth of the child if the denial of paternity:
    (A) is in writing;
    (B) is signed by the child's father in the presence of a notary public; and
    (C) contains an acknowledgment that:
    (i) the denial of paternity is irrevocable; and
    (ii) the child's father will not receive notice of adoption proceedings.
    A child's father who denies paternity of the child under this subdivision may not challenge or contest the child's adoption.
    (b) If a parent has made only token efforts to support or to communicate with the child the court may declare the child abandoned by the parent.
    As added by P.L.1-1997, SEC.11. Amended by P.L.197-1997, SEC.18

    I do know that I can file without his consent on grounds of no significant contact for 1 year. My question is more aimed at what my chances are of getting a judge to approve a stepparent adoption?

    We can't guess how a particular judge will rule. Go speak to a local attorney - s/he'll know much better how judges tend to rule in your situation and your locale.
  12. #12
    moveslikejagger is offline Junior Member
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    Cool

    I will speak to an attorney closer to the year mark to see how to proceed with this. I just thought some of you may have some insight on how these cases usually go. Thanks for your responses.
  13. #13
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    Here's the other problem I see - the period of no contact STARTED with you violating the court order and denying his parenting time. Perhaps he didn't bother to fight you at the time, but I forsee that poor decision coming back to bite you in the end.
  14. #14
    moveslikejagger is offline Junior Member
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    you're right. it may very well.
  15. #15
    LdiJ is online now Senior Member
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    If you refer back to the law that was cited you will note that one of the provisions is failure to support the child. He has been supporting the child.

    If you file to terminate his parental rights based on abandonment you will have to serve him. If he has any interest in his child at all, or if he just wants to cause you trouble he will then counterfile for contempt for you denying his court ordered parenting time.

    Realistically, if support is being paid and he just hasn't communicated or visited the child for a year odds are that a judge will NOT involuntarily terminate his parental rights and visitation will resume.

    If you don't believe that visitation is in her best interest then perhaps it would be foolish to poke the sleeping bear.

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