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Diamond-Raven
11-21-2008, 06:19 PM
Here's my scenario: Two teens had sex, the girl ended up pregnant. She doesn't want the baby, the boy does. Can a minor sign away his/her parental rights? Could she/he get those rights back when they are older if they changed their minds?

Also, could a 17 year old boy be given sole custody of a baby if the baby is biologically his? Would there be some sort of requirement that the boy's parents become the baby's legal guardians until the boy is of legal age? Please make the assumption that the father is willing to be a responsible parent and does a good job.

If the 17 year old biological dad got into a serious relationship with another person who is also a minor, could that person legally adopt the child before they are 19/21 (whatever the legal age is in their area)?

Lastly, if the dad's partner legally adopted the child and the bio dad dies, could the bio mother demand custody of the child back? In other words, does a current adoptive parent have more legal rights over a child than a biological parent who gave up their rights?

Thanks for any help!

DeleyanLee
11-21-2008, 06:29 PM
It depends on the laws of the state of residence.

In Pennsylvania, when a girl becomes pregnant, she becomes an emanciated teen and legally capable of making decisions for herself and her child. I honestly don't know if that is true of the father, but it could be.

It sounds to me that you need to look at the minor's rights FAQ for wherever you've set your story.

As far as legal adoptions go, that also is covered by the state laws. In Michigan, when my sister's husband adopted her son from her first marriage, they had to attempt to contact the ex-husband to get him to sign away his rights for custody. Since they couldn't contact him, they had to hire someone to attempt to find him. They had to get affidavits from a number of relatives and non-relatives that the ex had made no attempt to contact the boy in 7 years (IIRC) to prove abandonment before the adoption could go through. Her lawyer said that once the child was deemed abandoned, the other parent gave up all custodial rights and it would be difficult to impossible to get them back from the adoptive parent.

However, I have heard how, in some states, biological parents have gotten kids back from adoptive ones.

It all depends on where you're talking about.

Diamond-Raven
11-21-2008, 06:37 PM
Heh....I love how you automatically assumed the story is set in the States. *grins*

Being Canadian, I'm basing my story in Canada, so the laws in the States wouldn't really help. I was just wondering if there are general rules about such things or if these are really things that are drastically different from region to region.

DeleyanLee
11-21-2008, 06:40 PM
Since you didn't specify, I defaulted to my experiences. (Detroit is close to Canada, but not quite close enough. LOL!) Since IME, the majority of the site seems to be Americans, it seemed a safe default.

I'm not familiar enough with how the provinces are set up, if they're like US states or not. Still sounds like you should check out legal Q&A sites and get the basics.

heyjude
11-21-2008, 08:17 PM
In Pennsylvania, when a girl becomes pregnant, she becomes an emanciated teen and legally capable of making decisions for herself and her child.

DeleyanLee, are you sure about this? I'm in PA also and I've had clients under the age of 18 who, when they wanted to go on their own after getting pregnant, had to file for emancipation. I've never heard of an automatic rule.

DeleyanLee
11-21-2008, 08:33 PM
I work in an adolescent health clinic. Pregnant minors are allowed to make their own medical (and other legal decisions) in PA. How far that extends, I'm not sure because we don't deal with outside the medical arena.

Coming from outside PA, I just found that to be noteworthy since it wasn't true back in MI where I came from.

Mike Martyn
11-21-2008, 08:58 PM
Heh....I love how you automatically assumed the story is set in the States. *grins*

Being Canadian, I'm basing my story in Canada, so the laws in the States wouldn't really help. I was just wondering if there are general rules about such things or if these are really things that are drastically different from region to region.

Family law varies from province to province since it's under provincial authority and not federal.

That said, typically, you can do anything you want until such time as social services get involved and they don't get involved unless there is somethin to bring the situation to their notice. ie; little Johnny comes to school with a couple of black eyes on too many occasions.

Once one of the parties goes to court for something, then social services gets involved with home visits etc.

Once the kid is old enough for school, they need to produce a birth certificate and if there is any discrepency, you, the 'parent" have a problem.

Typically a minor can't legally agree to anything.

RAMHALite
11-22-2008, 07:04 AM
Lastly, if the dad's partner legally adopted the child and the bio dad dies, could the bio mother demand custody of the child back? In other words, does a current adoptive parent have more legal rights over a child than a biological parent who gave up their rights

Diamond-Raven,
In most states (perhaps all), the rights of the birth parents have to be legally severed either voluntarily, via surrender, or involuntarily through litigation, before a child can be adopted. An adoptive parent has the same legal rights over an adopted minor child that a birth parent has over their birth child. The biological parent whose rights have been terminated has NO legal right to that child, no more than a stranger would have.

This is why termination of parental rights is such a big deal. Justice Ginsburg has compared it to a very heavy criminal sanction in its severity.

So, the birth mother absolutely cannnot demand custody back. Termination of parental rights is qualitatively different from a custody battle. Termination is for keeps.

BUT, one possible literary scenario to address this is a demonstration that the tenager's surrender of parental rights was not made knowingly or voluntarily. Perhaps the birth mother was coerced into it, or else thought that it was somehow reversible. Or else the birth father was incorrectly identified and the wrong father was terminated. This last scenario actually happened in the well known case of Baby Jessica. There is a chapter on this in a book entitled Psychological Consultation in Parental Rights Cases by F. Dyer (Guilford Press, 1999).

HTH,
RAMHALite

Diamond-Raven
11-22-2008, 01:29 PM
Hmm....it seems that I really do have to follow DeleyanLee's advice and check Canadian sites to find the specifics.

I thought that such things were quiet general, but it appears that I was mistaken.

Thanks to everyone who offered their insight and their experiences!

Yeshanu
12-02-2008, 07:55 PM
Here's my scenario: Two teens had sex, the girl ended up pregnant. She doesn't want the baby, the boy does. Can a minor sign away his/her parental rights? Could she/he get those rights back when they are older if they changed their minds?

As far as I know, the answers are yes and no respectively in Ontario, though I believe there's a period of time for that decision to take effect, during which the mother could change her mind. But generally, once parental rights are signed away, unless (as RAHMA has said) there is coercion or non-disclosure of information, the decision is permanent.


Also, could a 17 year old boy be given sole custody of a baby if the baby is biologically his? Would there be some sort of requirement that the boy's parents become the baby's legal guardians until the boy is of legal age? Please make the assumption that the father is willing to be a responsible parent and does a good job.

Again, yes, the boy could get sole custody if the baby is his and it's proven. If, however, the girl doesn't name him as the parent, he'd have to prove that he was, quite possibly at his expense. Chances are very high that Family and Children's Services would be involved right from the start, and the boy's parents might be involved, but he would be the legal guardian.


If the 17 year old biological dad got into a serious relationship with another person who is also a minor, could that person legally adopt the child before they are 19/21 (whatever the legal age is in their area)?

I don't think so. But why would they go the expensive court route? That doesn't really ring "true" regarding the teenage parents I know (and I do know a few.) The more likely scenario is that the boy and his new girl would simply live together.


Lastly, if the dad's partner legally adopted the child and the bio dad dies, could the bio mother demand custody of the child back? In other words, does a current adoptive parent have more legal rights over a child than a biological parent who gave up their rights?

No. Once you've signed over your rights (and I do think there's a waiting period of six months or so), you're not the parent of that child any more in the eyes of the law, and you have no rights whatsoever with regards to decisions about that child's upbringing. Once you've adopted a child, that child is yours, for better or worse.

I'm a bit curious about your overall scenario, because to me, what would ring more true is for mom to say she doesn't want baby, dad does, so he simply takes her, no legal stuff involved, and all perfectly legal under the law. If your story depends on conflict between the bio mom and dad's new girl over custody of the child, then you may have to go that route (notice mom has not signed over her rights), because once the child's adopted by the other woman (and she would have to be a woman to adopt, not a girl), there's not a whole lot mom can do that would be legal.

Note to that unlike the bio parent, the adoptive mom would have to prove herself a fit parent to FCS. That would mean having a stable home, job, etc. There is an investigation done into the prospective parent and the home that's likely only increased in intensity and duration from when my parents adopted my brother. It wouldn't be automatic based on the fact that she's the bio dad's partner, especially since this guy seems to have a penchant for flitting from girl to girl.

jclarkdawe
12-02-2008, 09:08 PM
Not only is the providence going to matter, the years when this occurs are going to matter. I'd contact a law school in the providence of choice and ask these questions, making sure to reference the year each event occurred in. Legal assistance would be another good source.

This stuff is constantly (as far as an attorney is concerned) changing.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe