May 23, 2006
Case Law Development: Unmarried Biological Father's Consent Required For Adoption If Paternity Uncontested in Other Prior Proceedings
The Florida Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's order of adoption without securing the consent of the biological father. The child and Mother had both tested positive for cocaine at the child's birth. As a result, the state initiated dependency proceedings and identified Father as the biological father, without objection.
In an effort to avoid the dependency proceeding, Mother's parents brought an action to adopt the child, to which Mother consented. The trial court found that Father's consent was not required because he had not timely registered in the putative father registry.
The court of appeals reversed, finding that the trial court erred in determining that the Florida statutes requiring registration in the putative father registry is the sole method of preserving an unmarried biological father's rights. Rather, the court held, a court must obtain consent to adoption from any man who qualifies as a father under any of the statutory sections of the statute. "Thus, subsection (b)5 [the putative father registry] is not a default provision under which all unmarried biological fathers must qualify to protect their parental rights -- it is merely one statutory method among five to identify a child's father." The court went on to note that father's consent was required because he met the statutory section in which paternity has been "established by court proceeding." "The phrase "established by court proceeding" is not limited to a formal paternity adjudication under chapter 724, Florida Statutes (2004). Rather, any time a court makes a factual determination as to the identity of a minor child's father, and the determination is material in the proceeding before the court, that proceeding qualifies as a "court proceeding" under subsection (b)3."
The dissent argues that the majority's conclusion that father's consent was required under the adoption act was "unsupported by the facts, directly contravenes the expressed legislative intent set forth in the Florida Adoption Act, and directly conflicts with prior case law from this court as well as overwhelming precedent from around the country."
B.B. v. P.J.M. & K., 2006 Fla. App. LEXIS 8011 (May 22, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited May 23, 2006 bgf)
Pennsylvania Court Considering Posthumous Divorce
Lawyers for a slain dentist tried but failed yesterday to have his pending divorce finalized by a judge. The case, first of its kind in Pennsylvania, centers on John Yelenic, who was attacked and killed April 13 in his Blairsville home. Dr. Yelenic, 39, died the day before he was to sign his divorce papers and have them notarized. All five original copies of the paperwork were in his house when he was killed, said his lawyer, Effie Alexander. Common Pleas Judge Carol Hanna reviewed it but declined to grant Dr. Yelenic's divorce. She says she is not sure she has any standing in a case involving a dead man. The judge gave Ms. Alexander and her colleague, Sam Reich, two weeks to give her written arguments on why she has the power to grant a posthumous divorce.
Read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article (last visited May 23, 2006 bgf)
May 22, 2006
June Likely Time for Teen Sex
"June is when teens are most likely to have sex for the first time, a national survey says.
The survey doesn't say why. But Markie Trejo, a Sunnyside High School sophomore, probably has as good an explanation as anyone. "You have a lot of free time and you don't have no other way to waste it," he said. For agencies working to prevent teen pregnancy, that means May is crunch time." By Jane Erikson, www.azstarnet.com Link to Article (last visited 5-21-06 NVS)
Children Pressured to Be Sexually Active
"Children lack the knowledge and confidence to say no to sex or to keep themselves safe as they come under pressure from their peers to experiment, the charity ChildLine says today.
Rather than wait until they are emotionally prepared for sex, children as young as 12 are turning to alcohol to help to get them through losing their virginity. Most are too embarrassed, confused, drunk or illinformed to think about the risks of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections, so contraception is barely even considered, a charity report says." By Alexandra Frean, Times Online Link to Article (last visited 5-21-06 NVS)
Plural Marriage Under Spotlight
"With Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, criminal investigations under way by authorities in Utah and Arizona, a national media feeding frenzy over all things polygamy and a TV show such as HBO's "Big Love," plural marriage is sitting under a very hot spotlight. A recent Utah Supreme Court ruling that clears the way for prosecutors to go after polygamists under the state's bigamy statute has only served to turn up the heat."I have started to be a little concerned about that," said one polygamist man, who asked the Deseret Morning News not to identify him out of fear of criminal prosecution. He lives in the Salt Lake Valley with his five wives." By Geoffrey Fattah, deseretnews.com Link to Article (last visited 5-21-06 NVS)
Polygamy Charges Filed Against Detroit-Area Woman
"A woman who police say made a habit of marrying men and draining their finances must be stopped, her most recent husband said after the woman appeared in a Detroit-area courtroom on polygamy charges. Kyle McConnell waived her circuit court arraignment during a brief court appearance Monday that was attended by one of her alleged victims and relatives of two others. According to police, the 46-year-old McConnell had a trail of as many as 15 husbands in her past. She has pleaded not guilty to the polygamy charges in Macomb County, and a pretrial conference is scheduled for Friday in the case." Associated Press, SouthBendTribune.com Link to Article (last visited 5-21-06 NVS)
T.V. For Babies
"And last week, a channel called BabyFirstTV, initially available to DirecTV subscribers, became the first 24-hour cable and satellite network to offer programming aimed at viewers between 6 months and 3 years old. Before advocacy groups take their shot BabyFirstTV, perhaps they should give a thought — quickly, before Viacom launches MTV Zygote and Nickelodeon Embryo — to the poor programmers charged with developing such content. Toddlers may be good at communicating what they want in a sippee cup, but they are not nearly as effective at conveying what they want in a television show: they simply will not sit still at focus groups, and are more likely to masticate extensive research questionnaires than to fill them out." By Dave Itzkoff, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 5-21-06 NVS)
Financial Incentives to Raise Birthrate?
"It might be that this notion of children as a burden, as an unnecessary bother, is the psychological reason for the catastrophic decline in Russian birth rates (the average woman has 1.34 children, and for every 16 Russians who died in 2004, only 10.4 babies were born). It's hard enough to get by — let's leave children for the future. Imagine a large city, population 700,000. Every year, Russia loses every person in that city. While 35,000 people are killed in automobile accidents each year, even more die from drugs, alcohol and the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle. Death triumphs over birth in a country that the state-owned news media grandly calls an energy superpower.
The state, at last, has taken note. In something of a bantering tone, which has become his style of late, President Vladimir Putin declared that the primary concern of the state is now love and motherhood. He proposed to resolve the love question capitalistically; to use financial incentives to raise the birthrate. Thus a woman who decides to have a second child will get about $10,000. And the president underpinned his concern for motherhood with a military concept, arguing that a dwindling population would leave the country unprotected." By Viktor Erofeyev, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 5-21-06 NVS)
May 21, 2006
Case Law Development: Federal Judge Rules Oklahoma Gay Adoption Law Unconstitutional
On Friday, a federal judge sitting in Oklahoma struck down a two-year-old amendment to Oklahoma law that prohibited state officials from recognizing same sex adoptions from other states or countries. The judge found that the amendment violated the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause and parties substantive due process rights. He observed that the Amendment to the Oklahoma statute was passed to allegedly “halt the erosion of the mainstream definition of the family unit and to protect Oklahoma children from being targeted for adoption by gay couples across the nation and to ensure that children are raised in traditional family environments.”
The judge wrote that “the Amendment targets an unpopular group and singles them out for disparate treatment. . . . Thus, to the extent the Amendment has a disparate impact on homosexual individuals seeking recognition of out-of-state adoptions, it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and must be set aside.”
The judge also ruled that because the effect of the Amendment is to interfere with the parent Plaintiffs’ rights to make decisions related to the care, custody, and control of their children, Plaintiffs have established the Amendment infringes on a fundamental right. Furthermore, the defendants failed to produce evidence showing a compelling state interest to be served that justifies the infringement by the state on the fundamental right. A copy of the Federal District Court opinion may be ownloaded here.pdf
Lesbian Priest Raises Controversy in Canada
A married lesbian working as an Anglican priest in Ottawa, Canada has created controversy among members of the Anglican diocese. One church has withheld about $36,000 of its dues to the diocese in protest and several clergy signed an open letter denouncing their Bishop. Opponents have charged that the Bishop has reneged on the spirit of the Anglican church's national moratorium on same-sex unions by allowing the lesbian to work as a priest. The Bishop, however, remains supportive of the priest. Source. Jennifer Green, The Ottawa Citizen, Canada.com. For the complete story, please click here (last visited May 21, 2006, reo).
Tempers Flare When Senate Committee Approves Constitutional Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriages
Tempers flared Thursday when a Senate committee approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. It is reported that a shouting match ended when one Democrat strode out of the committee hearing room and the Republican chairman bid him "good riddance." The panel voted 10-8 along party lines to send the constitutional amendment — which would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages — to the full Senate. Source. Laurie Kellman, AP, Seattletimes.com. To read the complete story, please click here (last visited May 21, 2006, reo).
Foster Parents in the State of Washington Move Toward Unionizing
Foster parents in the state of Washington have been working quietly for the past few months to join the Washington Federal of Sate Employees and make Washington the first state in the country where foster parents will be part of a union. Presently, about 6,000 foster parents care for approximately 9,600 children. The pay range for foster parents ranges from $374 to $525 per month, depending on the child's age. Foster parents receive no health insurance or holidays and are on call round-the-clock. Source. Maureen O’Hagan, Seattle Times, seattletimes.nwsource.com. To read the complete story, please click here (last visited May 21, 2006, reo).