In an ideal world, every child would have two loving, responsible parents. All too often, though, that just is not the case. Sometimes, a tragic death take a parent from a child. In other cases, however, a parent is simply absent from the child’s life. Then there are cases where the parent’s contact with his or her child is infrequent and where that parent does not financially, emotionally, or spiritually support the child. In these latter situations, where there is a living parent, but that parent is either totally absent or only barely involved in the child’s life, involuntary termination of parental rights followed by a step-parent adoption may well be in the child’s best interest.
In Pennsylvania, the grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights are spelled out in the Domestic Relations Code at 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511. In the typical step-parent adoption scenario, perhaps the most common reason courts terminate the parental rights of one parent is because that “… parent by conduct continuing for a period of at least six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition either has evidenced a settled purpose of relinquishing parental claim to a child or has refused or failed to perform parental duties.” The birth parent and his or her spouse or partner must prove the other birth parent’s “settled purpose” or refusal or failure to perform parental duties by clear and convincing evidence.
The laws of Pennsylvania governing the adoption of children are complex. The Orphans’ Court rules are also complex. A successful adoption action requires legal expertise, attention to detail, and rigid compliance with law and rules of court. If you are considering a step-parent adoption and live in Central Pennsylvania, feel free to contact the Law Office of Sean Potter, PC to arrange for a free consultation. From my office in New Bloomfield, Perry County, Pennsylvania, I provide adoption services in counties including Perry, Juniata, Cumberland, Dauphin, Mifflin, Center, Snyder, Franklin, York, and Lancaster among others.