If you are considering adoption, one of the things that needs to happen is for the parental rights of the biological parent or parents to be terminated. In a step-parent adoption case, only one parent needs to give up their parental rights. However, sometimes the other biological parent does not consent to the adoption. In these cases, there are some scenarios where the court can terminate the rights of the other biological parent in order to allow the adoption petition to go through. If you are considering stepparent or another kind of adoption, you should contact a skilled Rhode Island adoption attorney to talk about your rights and options.
Facts of the Case
Here, the stepfather of two boys filed a petition to adopt them. Their biological father was incarcerated during these proceedings. He objected to the adoption by the stepfather so the children’s mother and stepfather moved to have his rights terminated. The mother of the children testified that the biological father of the children had not visited the children in over two years and had never paid child support. Even when he was not incarcerated, she testified, his presence in the children’s lives was rare. The biological father argued that he did at times see the children and provide gifts when he was able to. The boys – ages 14 and 15 – also testified that they rarely saw their biological father. They further testified that their stepfather had been a constant and positive presence in their lives for the last eight years and they wanted him to become their adoptive father. The family court found that terminating the biological father’s parental rights and allowing the stepparent adoption would be in the best interests of the children.
Involuntary Termination of Rights
Biological parents are automatically granted important rights to visit and parent their children. However, if the parent “abandons” the children then their rights can be terminated. Abandonment is defined by Rhode Island statute as “a lack of communication or contact with the child for at least a six month period.” On appeal, the Rhode Island Supreme Court here held that the family court was correct and the children’s biological father had met the conditions for abandonment.
However, the overarching principle in family court proceedings is always “the best interests of the child.” That means that the court will take all of the circumstances into account to determine what outcome would serve the children best. Here, due in part to the testimony of the children and the general absence of their biological father, the court held that allowing the stepparent adoption to go forward would be in the best interests of the children. Therefore, the appeals court upheld the family court’s termination of the biological father’s parental rights and granted the adoption petition of the stepfather.
Hire an Experienced Rhode Island Family Law Attorney to Help You!
Adoption is a great way to build or grow a family, but it is also a legal process. That’s why it’s so important to work with a skilled Rhode Island family law attorney. The adoption attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC, can help you to get the legal recognition that your family deserves. Call (401) 300-4055 or use the form on this web site to contact us today for a free consultation!
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