By: Steven M. Kirsh
The Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Bill 27 during the 2014 Legislative Session. Governor Pence signed the bill into law. SB 27 makes improvements to Indiana’s already very good adoption laws. In fact, other states have modeled some of their adoption laws after those of Indiana.
Here is what SB 27 does:
- It resolves a jurisdictional conflict when adoption and child custody proceedings are pending at the same time by giving the adoption court jurisdiction over the child custody proceeding. This is already in the case when an adoption and paternity action are pending at the same time. This prevents two different courts from potentially issuing conflicting rulings regarding a child.
- It makes a technical change to the language regarding the pendency of adoption and paternity proceedings by making clear that if a paternity action – not just a petition to establish paternity is pending at the same time as an adoption, the adoption court has exclusive jurisdiction over the paternity action.
- It provides that if a termination of parental rights proceeding was initiated prior to the adoption and parental rights were terminated, an adoption based upon the termination of parental rights cannot be granted while an appeal is still pending or could be filed.
- It creates a summer study commission to consider whether or not Indiana should consider a pre-birth abandonment statute. Under current law, if a parent “abandons” a child, the parent’s consent to the adoption is not required. A pre-birth abandonment statute would enable a court to find that if a man does not support a woman during her pregnancy, he is deemed to have abandoned the child making his consent to the adoption unnecessary.