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Family law helps preserve parental, child rights during adoption

In Massachusetts, state law provides certain parental rights to birth parents. Although there are exceptions, such as in the case of a parent that has been found legally unfit by a family law court, it is generally presumed that a parent has a right to be involved in his or her child's life. For that reason, consent is generally required from a birth parent before a child may be placed up for adoption.

However, adoption laws may vary between states, which may have come as an unpleasant surprise to several fathers who have brought a legal challenge to the Utah Adoption Act in federal court. Under previous law, adoption proceedings did not require a single mother to give notice to the father. As a result, the fathers in the lawsuit may have found their parental rights terminated without any advance notice.

Notably, the fathers in the lawsuit were from a number of different American states. According to their complaint, their former wives or girlfriends traveled to Utah specifically to take advantage of the former adoption law's lack of notification requirements. Some fathers' rights advocates have characterized that provision as producing nothing less than fraudulent adoptions.

Fortunately, the law in Utah was recently changed to require notification. The change reflects the general presumption of many family law courts that a child benefits from the involvement of both birth parents. A family law attorney knows that the dictates of a job or new relationship may require divorced parents to relocate, possibly moving out of state. That relocation may present complicated questions about child support and legal custody. With the help of an attorney, a parent can pursue the option that is best for both the parent and child.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Utah Governor Signs Law Beefing Up Adoption Rules," Annie Knox, April 3, 2014 

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