California Adoption Laws, pg 3

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Consent Laws

Who Must Consent to an Adoption
Citation: Fam. Code §§ 8603; 8604; 8605

Consent is required from the following persons:
  • The birth parents, if living
  • The parent having custody if the other parent:
    • Fails to communicate with and support the child
    • Fails to respond to notice of adoption
  • The spouse of the adopting parent, if the adopting parent is married


Age When Consent of Adoptee is Considered or Required
Citation: Fam. Code § 8602

A child age 12 or older must consent to the adoption.

When Parental Consent is not Needed
Citation: Fam. Code §§ 8604; 8606

The consent of a presumed father is not required for the child's adoption unless he became a presumed father before the mother's relinquishment or before consent becomes irrevocable or before the mother's parental rights have been terminated.

The consent of a noncustodial parent is not required if the parent for a period of 1 year willfully fails to communicate with and to pay for the care, support, and education of the child when able to do so.

The consent of a birth parent is not necessary when the birth parent has:

  • Been judicially deprived of the custody and control of the child
  • Voluntarily surrendered the right to the custody and control of the child
  • Deserted the child without provision for identification of the child
  • Relinquished the child for adoption as provided in § 8700
  • Relinquished the child for adoption to a licensed or authorized child-placing agency in another jurisdiction


When Consent Can Be Executed
Citation: Fam. Code §§ 8801.3; 8700

In a direct placement, consent may only take place after the discharge of the birth mother from the hospital. If the mother is required to be hospitalized longer than the child, consent may be given with verification of competency from her physician.

Relinquishment to an agency can take place any time after the birth of the child.

How Consent Must Be Executed
Citation: Fam. Code §§ 8801.3; 8814; 8700; 8606.5

In a direct placement, consent must take place in the presence of an Adoption Service Provider or other delegated agent, who has advised the parents of their rights.

In an agency adoption, a form is signed before two witnesses and acknowledged before an official of the agency.

Consent to adoption given by an Indian child's parent is not valid unless both of the following occur:

  • The consent is executed in writing at least 10 days after the child's birth and recorded before a judge.
  • The judge certifies that the terms and consequences of the consent were fully explained in detail in English and were fully understood by the parent or that they were interpreted into a language that the parent understood.


Revocation of Consent
Citation: Fam. Code §§ 8814.5; 8700; 8606.5

In a direct placement, after consent has been given, the parents have 30 days to submit a signed revocation and request the return of the child or sign a waiver of the right to revoke consent.

In an agency adoption, consent is final and may only be rescinded by mutual consent, unless the birth parent has specified an adoptive parent and that placement is not finalized; then the parent has 30 days to rescind.

The parent of an Indian child may withdraw his or her consent to adoption for any reason at any time prior to the entry of a final decree of adoption, and the child shall be returned to the parent.

After the entry of a final decree of adoption of an Indian child, the Indian child's parent may withdraw consent to the adoption upon the grounds that consent was obtained through fraud or duress and may petition the court to vacate such decree. Upon a finding that such consent was obtained through fraud or duress, the court shall vacate such decree and return the child to the parent; however, no adoption that has been effective for at least 2 years may be invalidated unless otherwise permitted under State law.

Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (http://www.childwelfare.gov)

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