The short answer is, it depends. Generally speaking, a court may only grant a petition to adopt a child if written consent to adoption is executed by the child’s parents. However, like most everything in life, exceptions apply. But when do these exceptions apply? What are the circumstances when a parent’s consent is not required? In this blog, we provide a brief overview of when a parent’s consent to adoption is required and when consent may be waived.
Adoptions in Indiana are governed by statutory law. Thus, when going trying to determine whether consent is required, it is necessary to review the relevant statutory section. Indiana Code 31-19-9 et al deals with consents to an adoption. As mentioned above, a court is generally prohibited from granting a petition for adoption unless written consent is provided by the child’s parents.1 Yet, statutory law also provides for several instances, or exceptions, in which a parent’s consent may not be required. Common situations in which a biological parent’s consent is not required include: 2
- The child has been abandoned by the biological parents for a period of at least six (6) months immediately preceding the date of the filing of the petition for adoption.
- A parent of a child leaves the child in custody of another person for a period of at least one year and the parent either: fails without justifiable cause to communicate significantly with the child when able to do so; or knowingly fails to provide support for the child.
This is not an exhaustive list of the exceptions, as there are a multitude of circumstances that could make a parent’s consent not required. As our Indiana courts have recognized, the existence of any of the listed circumstances would provide a sufficient reason to dispense with consent.
Finally, it is important to note that the party seeking the adoption bears the burden of proof that a parent’s consent is not required. That is, the party seeking the adoption bears the burden of providing, by clear and convincing evidence, that one of the enumerated circumstances applies so that consent is not required.
The above information is general in nature, and whether a parent’s consent is required will ultimately depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. Adoptions involve complex legal standards and evidentiary showings, and are often wrought with overwhelming emotion. Thus, retaining skilled counsel is key to advocating for you and fighting for your legal rights. This blog post is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle all aspects of adoption proceedings throughout the state. This blog is written for educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.