Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Case Law Development: No Collateral Attacks on Second Parent Adoptions

Alexander Rhoads of the Iowa Divorce & Family Law Blog reports on the Iowa Supreme Court decision in Schott v. Schott,  in which the court held that a trail court could not collaterally attack the validity of a second parent adoption in a later child custody proceeding.  The case involved female partners who were parents to two children: one parent was the biological parent and the other had adopted the children.  In the custody proceeding following their breakup, neither party challenged the validity of the adoption, but the trial court found that the court granting the adoption had lacked subject matter jurisdiction and dismissed the case. Both parties appealed.

The Iowa Supreme Court held that the collateral attack on the prior adoption was error:

Even if the district court who issued the adoption decrees misinterpreted Iowa’s adoption statute, the adoptions are not void..... an adoption may only be collaterally attacked if the district court granting the adoption lacked jurisdiction over the person or subject matter, or on due process grounds by a natural parent. Since none of those circumstances exist, the districtcourt considering [the adoptive mother's]  petition was wrong to declare the adoptions invalid.

Schott v. Schott, No. 07-0610, January 18, 2008
Opinion online (last visited 1/21/08 bgf)

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