In a legal action for the adoption of a minor child, the general rule is that the parents of the minor child must consent, or agree, to the adoption for the adoption to proceed successfully. However, Oklahoma law allows for adoptions of minor children to proceed without the consent of a parent in certain circumstances. The Tulsa family law firm Fry & Elder is well-versed and experienced in all family law matters in Oklahoma and is here to answer some of the more common questions that deal with adoptions without consent in Oklahoma.
When can an adoption without consent in Oklahoma occur?
There are a number of circumstances where an adoption without consent in Oklahoma might proceed without the consent of a parent, including, but not limited to, 1. when a putative father of a minor who, at a hearing fails to prove he is the father of the child; 2. when a parent has willfully failed, refused, or neglected to contribute to the support of the child for a period of twelve (12) consecutive months out of the last fourteen (14) months immediately preceding the filing of the adoption petition; 3. when the child is placed for adoption within ninety (90) days of birth, and the father or putative father fails to show he has exercised parental rights or duties towards the minor, including, but not limited to, failure to contribute to the support of the mother of the child to the extent of his financial ability during her term of pregnancy; 4. when the child is placed for adoption within fourteen (14) months of birth, and the father or putative father fails to show that he has exercised parental rights or duties towards the minor, including, but not limited to, failure to contribute to the support of the minor to the extent of his financial ability, which may include consideration of his failure to contribute to the support of the mother of the child to the extent of his financial ability during her term of pregnancy; 5. a parent who is entitled to custody of the child has abandoned the child; 6. when a parent fails to establish and/or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with the child for a period of twelve (12) consecutive months out of the last fourteen (14) months immediately preceding the filing of a petition for adoption.
The most common grounds on which an adoption petitioner asks for the trial court to find that the adoption should proceed without the consent of a parent are on grounds that for 12 of the last 14 months, the parent did not support the child or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with the child.
What does the court factor in when deciding these matters?
When the issue of whether the adoption may proceed without the consent of one or both parents is contested by the parent or parents, the parties are entitled to a trial. The trial will generally be limited in scope to the specific issue at hand. For example, if the sole basis for the adoption petitioner’s request to proceed without parental consent is the petitioner’s allegation that the parent has failed to support the child in 12 of the 14 months prior to the filing of the adoption petition, the scope of the trial, and the evidence that the court will consider, will be limited evidence from the time period of 14 months prior to the date of the adoption petition and limited to the issue of child support.
There are often exceptions to all the general rules. These cases can be very fact-sensitive and emotionally charged. When facing these serious and potentially permanent circumstances, you may only have one chance to present your case. You will need a trial lawyer who can help you tell your side of the story.
Experience the Fry & Elder Difference
If you are or may be involved in a contested adoption, contact the Tulsa family law firm of Fry & Elder to schedule a meeting with a skilled, experienced adoption trial lawyer. Our attorneys are some of the most respected and esteemed in the legal industry. Robert G “Hap” Fry Jr. has been named a “Super Lawyer” in Oklahoma and is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
Firm attorneys James Elder, M. Shane Henry, Aaron Bundy and Fry all have garnered the prestigious AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, which is the highest recognition in the legal industry. Luke Barteaux, Bundy and Henry also recently made the 2015 Super Lawyers Rising Stars List.
Additionally, the Tulsa family law firm of Fry & Elder has been iconic in the realm of family law for a number of years, with roots dating all the way back to 1932. The firm was named to the U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Law Firms from 2014-2016.