Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Step-parent Adoption In Florida

        As our culture changes into a multi-dimensional family, the idea of step-parent adoption comes up more and more frequently. Step-parent adoption always requires that the natural parent losing his/her rights consent to the adoption of the child by the step-parent. If the natural parent is deceased, a death certificate must be supplied in lieu of consent. A home study is not required for a step-parent adoption in Florida. Additionally, the termination of parental rights of the natural parent and the adoption finalization can be completed in one hearing. It is always better to complete an adoption of any type with an attorney to assure that the process is done correctly. Some items to gather for a step-parent adoption are:

Certified Birth Certificate Of The Child Being Adopted
The Address History Of The Child Being Adopted
The Complete Contact Information For The Natural Parent Being Terminated

This list may not be inclusive based on circumstance.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Is It Legal For A Service Contract to Automatically Renew?

            Many states are enacting legislation dealing with automatically renewing service contracts. Without specific legislation, it is legal for a service provider to have automatically renewing contracts. Florida passed House Bill 751 in May, 2010 that governs auto renewing service contracts. It specifies that the terms of any auto renewal must be in "clear and conspicuous" language.
            Additionally, the service provider must give the client 30-60 days notice of the auto renewal so the client has the opportunity to cancel the contract. If the client does not cancel the contract, it will legally auto renew on the time specified in the notice. If notice is not provided and the client wishes to cancel the contract, any funds paid due to the auto renewal may be refundable. If you have an auto renewable service contract that you wish to cancel and did not receive notice about the auto renewal, contact an attorney to cancel your contract and request any funds paid due to the auto renewal.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

India - A Parent Child Abduction Risk

India - A Parent Child Abduction Risk

            If you are worried that your ex-spouse could possibly abduct your child by taking them to India, it pays to take heed to your worries. India has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Currently, The Hague seeks to return children to their residency country when there is a dispute over child custody. However, India does not participate in this practice.
            In fact, India fashions its child custody decisions after the religious beliefs of the parents. For example: If the family is Hindu, the Indian court favors the child to be with the mother up to age five but not necessarily afterwards. If the family is Muslim, the Indian court favors the child to be with the mother up to the age of seven or until puberty but not necessarily afterwards and a male child could differ.
            In the United States, we favor a policy of the best interest of the child, which includes but is not exclusive of the relationship of the child with each parent, the residency established by the child and the basic daily needs and habits of the child. In India, United States custody orders are not automatically enforced and there is no registration process to secure the jurisdiction of the child. Additionally, parent child abduction is not a criminal offense in India; therefore, a parent child abductor would not fall under an extradition agreement with the United States. 
           As a result, parent child abduction is a very real risk when one or both parents are Indian citizens and desire to take the child back to India. Of course, this risk varies by family because of family resources and relationships. If this is a risk that concerns you, please seek legal advice to protect yourself. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Re-adoption for Foreign Adoption

          When adopting a child overseas, it is extremely important to understand the status of your child's adoption and the home state's requirements for re-adoption. Whether or not a child is adopted under an IR-3 or IR-4 visa is the beginning of that understanding. An IR-4 visa requires that the child be re-adopted in the United States; whereas, an IR-3 visa does not require re-adoption in the United States. IR-3 visas are only issued by overseas consulates, where the complete adoption proceeding has occurred in the other country, and the parents have been present to see the child in the country of adoption.
            With IR-4 visas, a child is admitted to the United States under immigrant status and their citizenship cannot be established until a formal re-adoption has occurred in the United States establishing a permanent connection with the adoptive parents. Children admitted to the United States under IR-3 visas become United States citizens when they enter the country with their adoptive parents. As a result, children who are in the United States under an IR-4 visa are not afforded the complete protection of the United States and may not have the same legal or inheritance rights that IR-4 visa children have.
            In addition to basic legal rights, there are some convenience issues also wrapped into re-adoption. When a family chooses to re-adopt their child in the United States after an overseas adoption, the family will receive a United States adoption decree and birth certificate. The certificates will always be available through the vital statistics department and are much easier to access than international decrees. Also, the child's legal name can be changed and established during a re-adoption. The new birth certificate will list the adoptive parents as the child's legal parents. Although an international birth certificate will be accepted in the United States, an English written birth certificate with easier access certainly makes life easier in the long run when signing up for school, sports and other activities.
            States vary on whether or not an international adoption decree will be accepted, so it pays to know your state. Some states require a re-adoption of an overseas adoptee where other states may allow re-adoption, but don't have specific requirements. Generally, Florida recognizes decrees granting legal guardianship, termination of parental rights and adoption given by foreign countries and other states. The re-adoption of the adoptee will fall under the specific laws set forth in the Florida Adoption Statutes.