November 02, 2011
Family Law Faces Bieber
From Foxnews.com on the reported suit to establish (minor) Justin Bieber's paternity:
Teen idol Justin Bieber allegedly lost his virginity – and impregnated a young woman – during a 30-second tryst after a concert in Los Angeles late last year, according to a paternity suit filed Monday.
RadarOnline.com reports that Mariah Yeater, 20, filed court papers on October 31 stating that Bieber is the father of her three-month-old child.
Yeater could also be opening her up to a potential statutory-rape probe, however, as Bieber would have been 16 when the alleged incident occurred.
California’s age of consent is 18.
Bieber's rep strongly denies the charges, telling RadarOnline.com: "While we haven't yet seen the lawsuit, it's sad that someone would fabricate malicious, defamatory, and demonstrably false claims. We will vigorously pursue all available legal remedies to defend and protect Justin against these allegations."
Regarding the statutory rape possibiilty, Steve Cron, a California defense lawyer, told the New York Post: “Under a normal situation, no harm, no foul ... I would think [prosecutors] might let it go. But under these circumstances, the DA’s office has to show they’re not treating women differently, not treating a celebrity differently, [and] they might have to do something.”
A hearing on the matter is scheduled for December 15.
Read the full article here.
November 2, 2011 in Paternity | Permalink
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April 21, 2011
$50 Million New York Case Challenging Paternity Presumption
The New York Times ran a story last weekend about a great filiation case - worth $50 million - working its way through that New York Court system that challenges the old presumption that the husband of the mother is the father of a child born during the marriage. A good read during exam season! Read the piece here.
April 21, 2011 in Paternity | Permalink
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March 10, 2011
Family Law Firm, Just for Male Clients
From Florida Wires:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Ask lawyer Kenny Leigh if he would ever represent a female client and he'll say no.
He'll also tell you he's not sexist but railing against a Family Court system that is unfair to men.
At 41, the Jacksonville lawyer has built what appears to be a successful law practice branded on the slogan, "Men Only. Family Law Only."
And while Leigh said he's finished with that slogan, the attorney said his firm's philosophy won't change.
"The only thing that's very consistent about family law is how unfair it is to men," Leigh said in a January sit-down interview. "The current system turns a father into a visitor and a paycheck."
Read more here.
March 10, 2011 in Paternity | Permalink
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September 06, 2010
My friends (of both genders) keep drooling over this arrangement, so, back by
popular demand, here’s another post dedicated to it:
Over the past 15 years, the streets
have filled up with men pushing strollers. In 1995, dads took only 6 percent of
allotted 480 days of parental leave per child. Then the Swedish government set
aside 30 leave days for fathers only. In 2002 the state doubled the “daddy
only” days to 60 and later added an "equality bonus" for couples that
split their leave. Now more than 80 percent of fathers take some leave, adding
up to almost a quarter of all leave days. So in the middle of, say, a Monday
afternoon in March, the daddies and their strollers come at you both singly and
in waves, the men usually either striding fast and stone-faced or pushing the
stroller nonchalantly with one hand, cell phone glued to their ear.
I had expected great physical
comedy in Daddyland—fathers covered with diaper leakage, babies covered with
motor oil, men forcing resentful toddlers into soccer matches. I realize now
how insensitive to my Swedish brothers this was. Swedish dads of my generation
and younger have been raised to feel competent at child-rearing. They simply
expect to do it, just as their wives and partners expect it of them (even
though women still do far more child-related work in general). It's eye-opening
in a really boring way.
The working world has adjusted
accordingly. Most companies seem to fill parental-leave vacancies with
short-term contracts, and these seem to function as good tryouts for permanent
employment. It all feels pretty organic in a globalized world of flat
organizations and gender equality, of employees who are not locked into one
assignment or skill set.
Read more here. And,
somewhat relatedly, Happy Labor Day!
September 6, 2010 in Paternity | Permalink
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August 04, 2010
Buying Mini Afflecks and Carells
From NBC LA:
Choosing a sperm donor can be
overwhelming for many couples and even more challenging to those who are trying
to go it alone. There is a ton of information one has to sift through: donor's
blood type, favorite color and even high school G.P.A. However, what the donor
looks like is one aspect expecting mothers won't be able to see.
A local sperm bank is looking for a
way around that issue by using some familiar faces. The California Cryobank is
using celebrities to categorize what the donor looks like. But don't expect to
walk in and ask for a "George Clooney" or "Brad Pitt"
because the bank won't put any donor in that category for fear there would be
such a run on the vials. Guess you'll just have to settle for the "Steve
Carell," " Ben Affleck" or "Bill Gates."
Read more here.
August 4, 2010 in Paternity | Permalink
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July 23, 2010
Parness & Townsend: "For Those Not John Edwards: More and Better Paternity Acknowledgments at Birth"
Jeffrey A. Parness & Zachary Townsend (Northern Illinois University College of Law) have posted "For Those Not John Edwards: More and Better Paternity Acknowledgments at Birth" (forthcoming University of Baltimore Law Review) on SSRN. Here is the abstract.
When former U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate John Edwards (finally) declared his paternity of Quinn, born of sex to Rielle Hunter, many assumed he could then begin to raise as well as financially support the child he once publicly shunned. Many assumed legal paternity could arise through a court order, if not Rielle’s wishes. Had he been on the Maury Povich television show, the positive genetic tests would have prompted the host to declare John the father. Yet notwithstanding these declarations, there would be no childrearing by John if Rielle determined he should have no contact with Quinn, even if Rielle sought child support from John and even if Quinn’s best interests favored contact between her and John. For genetic fathers like John whose bedmates are not like Rielle, there are often no opportunities to present Christmas gifts.
As John and Rielle were never married and as Rielle was not married to another, Quinn was a nonmarital child with no federal constitutional legal father at birth. At birth, John may have had a federal constitutional opportunity interest in establishing parentage, seized by stepping up to parental responsibilities. Yet, as John only declared paternity two years after birth, after denying fatherhood and prompting another man to declare his genetic ties with Quinn, he may have been too late to seize the federal opportunity interest in order to fully parent Quinn without Rielle’s cooperation. Only with Rielle’s consent could John now complete a voluntary paternity acknowledgment, a prerequisite to placing John on Quinn’s birth certificate. And with Rielle’s opposition, any paternity lawsuit by John to establish regular contacts with Quinn would most likely fail even though any paternity lawsuit to establish John’s financial support of Quinn would most likely succeed.
Popular misconceptions about legal paternity for nonmarital children born of sex largely arise due to confusion and ignorance about voluntary paternity acknowledgments. Our exploration of the federal and state acknowledgment laws reveals that a John Edwards is often no new father with legal childrearing rights so that without a Rielle Hunter’s help, his relationship with a Quinn would be limited to checks in the mail.
Voluntary acknowledgment laws are especially important today because about 1.7 million nonmarital children are born of sex each year in the United States, with about one third, like Quinn, having no legal father at birth. In 1940, there were only about 90,000 nonmarital children. Like Quinn, some of today’s fatherless children have late arriving declarations about genetic ties, and perhaps paternal child care. Far more nonmarital children remain fatherless, though possibly the subject of later suits seeking child support.
Many nonmarital children will be born fatherless under law even though U.S. governments proclaim that these children should have both a mother and father under law at birth. Voluntary paternity acknowledgment laws can better prompt dual parentage. After reviewing contemporary acknowledgment forms, we suggest laws to prompt more, and more reliable, paternity acknowledgments, and thus more legal fathers at birth for nonmarital children.
July 23, 2010 in Paternity | Permalink
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July 08, 2010
A new Boston College
study makes the modern American dad look positively Swedish in his dedication
to his children and his zeal to participate equally in raising them. The
yearlong qualitative study of 33 first-time fathers, released yesterday, found
that they viewed themselves as sharing family responsibilities 50-50 with their
wives and claimed to devote an average of 3.3 hours each workday to child care.
The new dads openly gushed about the way parenthood had changed their
priorities and career aspirations. "I love being a father so much more
than I thought I would," said one study participant about his new baby
girl. "The highlight of my day is in the morning when I hear her start to
wake up and I can just go in there and pick her up."
Unfortunately, the study also suggested that the men were
lying. Read more here.
July 8, 2010 in Paternity | Permalink
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July 06, 2010
An Account of Father’s Day
Here is a great account of Father’s Day, its history, and
its slightly consumerist nature.
July 6, 2010 in Paternity | Permalink
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June 23, 2010
Paternity and Minor’s Standing under IL Law
appellate court recently affirmed the circuit court’s finding of nonpaternity
based on DNA testing even though respondent had signed a voluntary
acknowledgment of paternity (VAP) and the birth certificate. The court held that the minor, by and through
the guardian ad litem, had standing to challenge the paternity of the
respondent because the child was not in privity with either party when they
executed VAP. The case is In re M.M ,
No. 1-09-3468 (May 21, 2010, 1st Div.). Read the opinion here.
June 23, 2010 in Paternity | Permalink
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October 18, 2009
Fellowship Opportunity in Reproductive Rights
From Columbia Law School and the Center for Reproductive Rights:
The Center for Reproductive Rights – Columbia Law School Fellowship (“CRR-CLS Fellowship”) is a two-year, post-graduate fellowship offered by the Center for Reproductive Rights (“the Center”) and Columbia Law School (“the Law School”). The Fellowship is designed to prepare recent law school graduates for legal academic careers, with a focus on reproductive health and human and human rights. Fellows will be
affiliated with the Center and the Law School and will participate in the intellectual life of both programs.
The CRR-CLS Fellowship is a full-time, residential fellowship for up to two full years starting in July 2010. The Fellow will be a member of the community of graduate fellows at the Law School and will be integrated into the legal and policy work of the Center and will have work space at both locations. The Fellow will also have access to
law school facilities, including the library and on-line research resources, and faculty events. It is expected that the Fellow will work closely with an assigned Law School faculty mentor.
Read the full fellowship announcement here.
October 18, 2009 in Alternative Reproduction, Paternity | Permalink
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January 21, 2009
Case Law Development: False Statements in Divorce regarding Paternity Do not Equal Extrinsic Fraud on the Court
The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court's dismissal of an action claiming extrinsic paternity fraud regarding children alleged in a 2005 divorce judgment to be born of the marriage. However, the court found that the dismissal could not properly be based on the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel.
The court reasoned that extrinsic fraud may be a basis for reopening a judgment, but went on to note that the ex-husband's claim here — Wife's false averments in a divorce petition and her sworn testimony in court regarding his paternity of their two children — was intrinsic fraud only.
Walker v. Walker, Mo. Ct. App., WD69198, (January 13, 2009)
January 21, 2009 in Paternity | Permalink
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October 27, 2008
Family Law Prof Blog previously drew your attention to an interesting op-ed by two Family Law Prof colleagues, June Carbone of
University of Missouri-Kansas City and Naomi Cahn of George Washington
University, in STLtoday.com, from St. Louis. (September 5, 2008).
Now The New Yorker's November 3, 2008 issue features Margaret Talbot's article, Red Sex, Blue Sex: Why do so many evangelical teen-agers become pregnant, quoting from Naomi Cahn and June Carbone. Talbot writes:
Two family-law scholars, Naomi Cahn, of George Washington University,
and June Carbone, of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, are
writing a book on the subject, and they argue that “red families” and
“blue families” are “living different lives, with different moral
imperatives.” (They emphasize that the Republican-Democrat divide is
less important than the higher concentration of “moral-values voters”
in red states.) In 2004, the states with the highest divorce rates were
Nevada, Arkansas, Wyoming, Idaho, and West Virginia (all red states in
the 2004 election); those with the lowest were Illinois, Massachusetts,
Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey. The highest teen-pregnancy rates were
in Nevada, Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas (all red); the
lowest were in North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and
Maine (blue except for North Dakota). “The ‘blue states’ of the
Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have lower teen birthrates, higher use of
abortion, and lower percentages of teen births within marriage,” Cahn
and Carbone observe. They also note that people start families earlier
in red states—in part because they are more inclined to deal with an
unplanned pregnancy by marrying rather than by seeking an abortion.
It's great to see Family Law Profs being part of this important conversation!
October 27, 2008 in Abortion, Adoption, Child Abuse, Paternity | Permalink
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August 16, 2008
Political Platforms on Family Law Issues
The political parties are in the process of drafting their national party platforms for the 2008 election and, as expected, there is some attention to family law issues.
The draft 2008 Democratic National Platform is interesting both for what it says and what it does not say. A section on "fatherhood" states that "too many fathers are missing." The party supports "removing tax penalties on married families and expanding maternity and paternity benefits," as well as rewarding those "who are responsibly supporting their children by giving them a tax credit" and will "crack down on men who avoid child support payments" and "ensure that payments go directly to families instead of bureaucracies." (page 44 lines 34-44). There is a section on "empowering families" with an extensive discussion of policies on health care, employment, "work and family," and women. Of particular interest is a pledge to "expand the Family and Medical Leave Act" to "enable workers to take leave to care for an elderly parent, address domestic violence, or attend a parent-teacher conference," and to work with states to make leave paid rather than unpaid. (page 10 lines 31-35). In a subsection entitled "Choice" the platform provides: "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right." There is also strong support for "access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education," and a mention of "caring adoption programs." (page 45 line 19-31). There is also this single line: "We oppose the Defense of Marriage Act and all attempts to use this issue to divide us." (page 47 lines 8-9).
The draft of the 2008 Democratic National Platform, in pdf format from CNN/TIME, is available here.
The Republican National Platform Committee is apparently still in progress - - - the committee is soliciting input for its 2008 platform here.
The draft of the 2008 Green Party Platform includes a section on youth, a call for equality regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity in civil marriage and child custody, a section on protecting abortion and contraception (specifically including the "morning after pill") and is available here.
The 2008 Constitution Party Platform calls for to the government to "secure and to safeguard the lives of the pre-born." The platform opposes "government
funding of 'partner' benefits for unmarried individuals," "any legal recognition of homosexual unions," and "efforts to legalize adoption of children by
homosexual singles or couples," and is available here.
(RR August 16, 2008)
August 16, 2008 in Abortion, Child Support Enforcement, Domestic Violence, Marriage (impediments), Paternity | Permalink
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August 15, 2008
Case Law Development: Paternity Acknowledgment and Child Support Order = Parent Status
The New Hampshire Supreme Court, interpreting the word "parent" in its custody statute, found that a trial court erred in dismissing a man's petition for parental rights and responsibilities of the six-year-old child he had helped raise since birth, despite the fact that the DNA testing ordered at mother's request showed that he was not the biological father. The man had signed an acknowledgment of paternity at the hospital when the child was born and later had a child support order entered against him. The New Hampshire Court held that this was sufficient to make his a parent entitled to bring an action for parenting time.
In the Matter of J.B. and J.G., (New Hampshire Sup. Ct. August 6, 2008)
Read the opinion online (last visited August 14, 2008 bgf)
August 15, 2008 in Paternity | Permalink
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January 10, 2008
Case Law Development: DNA Testing and Dismissal of Paternity Actions
The Supreme Court of Wyoming, in a case of first impression, interprets its state paternity statute regarding the impact of a DNA test excluding paternity. The disputed provision reads: "If the scientific evidence resulting from the genetic tests conclusively shows that the defendant could not have been the father, the action shall be dismissed." In this case, father submitted a genetic test excluding his paternity but took no further action. Over a year later, the laboratory contacted the court to notify it that it had discovered an error in the testing -- it had switched samples. When it re-ran the test with the correct samples, defendant was established to have a 99.99% probability of paternity. The court then ordered additional genetic testing, which also pointed to defendant as father.
Father argued that the court lacked any authority to order further testing because the statute required the court to sua sponte dismiss the paternity action once the first test had been submitted excluding him as father. The court found otherwise:
The cases relied upon by RK do not, however, establish that the plain language of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-111(f) mandates dismissal in the absence of an appropriate motion. The statute does not establish a timeframe for dismissal, nor does the statute require the district court to dismiss paternity cases on its own initiative. There was nothing to prevent RK from filing a motion to dismiss the paternity action, but RK did not file such a motion until after the court had received information undermining the reliability of the Test 1 results. Stated differently, at the time RK moved for dismissal, the genetic test had not "conclusively" established that RK was not the father. We also note that there is no requirement in the statute that dismissal be with prejudice. In the absence of a dismissal with prejudice, the State could have re-filed the action in August 1994 when the laboratory's error became known. In sum, RK asks this Court to read far more into the statute than is justified by its plain text. The court's failure to dismiss the action, sua sponte, did not violate the plain language of the statute. Accordingly, the paternity action was still pending at the time the laboratory revealed its mistake.
Father also argued that the trial court had applied the paternity statute in effect at the time of the decision rather than at the time the action was filed. The earlier statute had been more generous in the range of evidence permissible to rebut a paternity test. Thus, father argued, the trial court improperly excluded testimony of an expert witness. The Supreme Court agreed that the trial court erred in this exclusion but found it harmless error in the context of the two subsequent genetic tests establishing father's paternity.
RK v. State ex rel. Natrona County, 2008 WY 1 (January 8, 2008)
Opinion online (last visited January 9, 2008 bgf)
January 10, 2008 in Paternity | Permalink
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November 06, 2007
Case Law Development: Constitutional Challenge to Paternity Laws Dismissed For Failure to State Claim
The court found that Michigan Paternity Act does not affect any of Father’s fundamental rights because "it is not a fundamental right of any parent, male or female, to sever his or her financial responsibilities to the child after the child is born." The court further noted that it did not need to apply intermediate scrutiny because the Michigan Paternity Act and other statutes that impose the obligation of support are gender neutral. Finally, the court found that the Michigan Paternity Act withstood rational basis review because "the means that the statute uses to achieve this end–requiring support from the legal parents, and determining legal fatherhood based on the biological fatherhood–is substantially, let alone rationally, related to this legitimate, and probably important, government purpose."
The court declined to award fees for a frivolous appeal however. "While we find [Father’s} challenge to the Michigan Paternity Act to lack support in our equal protection jurisprudence, we do not consider his appeal of the district court’s decision to be frivolous or worthy of imposing sanctions. Admittedly, our precedent ... suggests that [Father's] claim should be viewed as “wholly without merit.”... However, the court noted that the claim in this case was brought under a legal theory that had not yet been rejected by the court.
Dubay v. Wells, 6th Cir Ct. App. (November 6, 2007)
Opinion on the web (last visited November 6, 2007 bgf)
November 6, 2007 in Paternity | Permalink
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July 30, 2007
Case Law Development: Florida Supreme Court Requires Adoption Agencies to Notify Unmarried Biological Fathers of Paternity Registry
In a decision that clarified a number of issues that had split the Florida appellate courts, the Florida Supreme Court has held that an unmarried father's parental rights may not be terminated based solely on failure to register in the putative father registry. "We hold that the rights of an unmarried biological father in relation to the child, who is known or identified by the mother as the potential father and who is locatable by diligent search, may be terminated based on his failure to file a claim with the Florida Putative Father Registry only if the father was served with notice under section 63.062(3)(a), Florida Statutes (2005), and he fails to comply with the requirements of that subsection within the thirty-day period."
The court did not eliminate the requirement that unmarried father's register in order to prevent the termination of parental rights. "The entire statutory scheme would be frustrated, including the interest in prompt adoption proceedings, if an unmarried biological father could avoid having his parental rights terminated prior to an adoption, even though he failed to comply with the requirements of section 63.062(2). In fact, section 63.054(1) contemplates that the termination of parental rights proceedings will operate against unmarried biological fathers in order to promote finality and certainty by providing that an unmarried biological father must file a claim of paternity with the Registry."
However, the court went on to analyze the notice an adoption agency must provide an unmarried biological father before the statutory registration requirement attaches. The court's statutory interpretation side-stepped constitutional challenges to the paternity registry.
The court noted that registration alone is insufficient to prevent termination of parental rights of unmarried fathers. The fathers must also file an affidavit of commitment in the court in order to establish and preserve his right to be made a party to any proceeding to terminate parental rights and to establish that his consent is required to the proposed adoption.
Heart of Adoptions v. J.A., Florida Supreme Court (July 12, 2007)
Opinion online (last visited July 27, 2007 bgf)
July 30, 2007 in Paternity | Permalink
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February 26, 2007
Case Law Development: De Facto Parent Doctrine Rejected by Utah Supreme Court
The Utah Supreme Court has held that individuals who have no biological or legal relationship with a child have no standing to seek visitation. Reversing the district court's decision that a former domestic partner could assert a claim to visitation under the common law doctrine of in loco parentis, the court held that Utah's doctrine of in loco parentis does not independently grant standing to individuals to seek visitation after the in loco parentis relationship has ended.
The couple in the dispute had entered into a civil union in Vermont and, after one bore a child conceived through artificial insemination, they were both obtain co-guardianship of the child and raised the child together until their relationship dissolved two years later. The court emphasized the temporary nature of the in loco parentis doctrine, concluding that it may be terminated by either the legal parent, the parent standing in loco parentis, or the child. The court further refused to expand the doctrine to recognize a new doctrine of de-facto or psychological parent, finding that a legislative task beyond the competence or power of the judiciary and in conflict with legislative policy.
Chief Justice Durham dissented, emphasizing that there had been no legislative pronouncements at all on the issue of surrogate parent standing to seek visitation or custody and finding the extension of such a doctrine to be an appropriate exercise of the court's power to adapt the common law to changing social realities.
Jones v. Barlow, Utah (February 16, 2007)
Opinion on web (last visited February 26, 2007 bgf)
February 26, 2007 in Custody (parenting plans), Paternity, Visitation | Permalink
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February 15, 2007
Legislative Update: Bills to Allow Disestablishment of Paternity
Legislation is working its way through the Colorado legislature that would make it harder for Colorado to force people to pay child support to children DNA tests have proven aren't theirs. The text of the bill. See the CBS4Denver website for a news video on the bill.
According to the Kansas City Star, this week a bill was introduced into the MIssouri legislature allowing DNA evidence to disestablish paternity after the current one-year limitations period.
See this Time magazine article on the national movement to pass similar legislation.
(all links last visited February 15, 2007 bgf)
February 15, 2007 in Child Support (establishing), Child Support Enforcement, Paternity | Permalink
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February 09, 2007
Case Law Development: Teeth Pulled From Putative Father Registries
The Florida court again reaffirmed its holding that a failure to file with the putative father registry is not a basis for terminating a biological father's parental rights in an adoption proceeding. A concurring opinion by Judge Canady questions the completeness of the court's analysis in the several cases establishing this precedent, noting that the putatitve father act expressly provides that:
"An unmarried biological father who does not comply with [the act] is deemed to have waived and surrendered any rights in relation to the child, including the right to notice of any judicial proceeding in connection with the adoption of the child, and his consent to the adoption of the child is not required."
J.A. v. Heart of Adoptions, Inc. (February 7, 2007)
opinion on web (last visited February 9, 2007)
February 9, 2007 in Paternity | Permalink
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