SSSB 162: "An Act relating to the appointment of guardians ad litem for parents; relating to petitions and proceedings for termination of parental rights; and amending Rules 1 and 6, Alaska Adoption Rules."
00 SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR SENATE BILL NO. 162 01 "An Act relating to the appointment of guardians ad litem for parents; relating to 02 petitions and proceedings for termination of parental rights; and amending Rules 1 and 03 6, Alaska Adoption Rules." 04 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 05 * Section 1. AS 25.23.030(c) is amended to read: 06 (c) Proceedings for the termination of parental rights on the grounds set out in 07 AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)] shall be brought in the superior court for the 08 district in which the child that is the subject of the action resides. 09 * Sec. 2. AS 25.23.050(a) is amended to read: 10 (a) Consent to adoption is not required of 11 (1) for purposes of this section, a parent who has abandoned a child for 12 a period of at least six months; 13 (2) a parent of a child in the custody of another, if the parent for a 14 period of at least one year has failed significantly without justifiable cause, including
01 but not limited to indigency, 02 (A) to communicate meaningfully with the child, or 03 (B) to provide for the care and support of the child as required 04 by law or judicial decree; 05 (3) the father of a minor if the father's consent is not required by 06 AS 25.23.040(a)(2); 07 (4) a parent who has relinquished the right to consent under 08 AS 25.23.180; 09 (5) a parent whose parental rights have been terminated by order of the 10 court under AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)] or AS 47.10.080(c)(3); 11 (6) a parent judicially declared incompetent or mentally defective if the 12 court dispenses with the parent's consent; 13 (7) a parent of the person to be adopted, if the person is 18 or more 14 years of age; 15 (8) a guardian or custodian specified in AS 25.23.040(a)(3) or (4) who 16 has failed to respond in writing to a request for consent for a period of 60 days or who, 17 after examination of the guardian's or custodian's written reasons for withholding 18 consent, is found by the court to be withholding consent unreasonably; or 19 (9) the spouse of the person to be adopted, if the requirement of 20 consent to the adoption is waived by the court by reason of prolonged unexplained 21 absence, unavailability, incapacity, or circumstances constituting an unreasonable 22 withholding of consent. 23 * Sec. 3. AS 25.23.125(b) is amended to read: 24 (b) The court may appoint a guardian ad litem or attorney, or both, under 25 AS 25.24.310 for a minor who is to be adopted or for a minor whose parent is the 26 subject of a petition to terminate parental rights under AS 25.23.180(c). 27 * Sec. 4. AS 25.23.130(d) is amended to read: 28 (d) Except as provided in (e) of this section, a decree terminating parental 29 rights on the grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)] voids all 30 legal relationships between the child and the biological parent so that the child is a 31 stranger to the biological parent and to relatives of the biological parent for all
01 purposes, including interpretation of documents executed before or after the 02 termination of parental rights that do not include the child by name or by a description 03 not based on a parental or blood relationship. 04 * Sec. 5. AS 25.23.130(e) is amended to read: 05 (e) Inheritance rights between a child and a biological parent are not voided by 06 a decree terminating parental rights on the grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) 07 [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)] unless the decree specifically provides for the termination of 08 inheritance rights. 09 * Sec. 6. AS 25.23.140(c) is amended to read: 10 (c) Subject to the disposition of an appeal, one year after a decree is issued 11 terminating parental rights on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) 12 [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)], the order may not be challenged on any ground, including fraud, 13 misrepresentation, failure to give notice, or lack of jurisdiction of the parties or of the 14 subject matter. 15 * Sec. 7. AS 25.23.150(b) is amended to read: 16 (b) The papers and records relating to an adoption or a termination of parental 17 rights under AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)] that are a part of the permanent 18 record of a court are subject to inspection only upon consent of the court. The papers 19 and records relating to an adoption or a termination of parental rights under 20 AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)] on file with the department, an agency, or an 21 individual are subject to inspection only with consent of all interested persons or by 22 order of a court for good cause shown. Except as provided in this section, adoption 23 records of the Bureau of Vital Statistics are subject to inspection under the provisions 24 of AS 18.50. 25 * Sec. 8. AS 25.23.150(c) is amended to read: 26 (c) Except as otherwise provided by law, or as authorized in writing by the 27 adopted child, if 14 or more years of age, or by the adoptive parent, or upon order of 28 the court for good cause shown, a person may not disclose the identity or address of an 29 adoptive parent, an adopted child, a child who is the subject of a proceeding under 30 AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)], or a biological parent whose parental rights 31 have been terminated on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)].
01 * Sec. 9. AS 25.23.150(d) is amended to read: 02 (d) The court may order the disclosure of a natural parent's identity or address 03 only if 04 (1) the court makes an express finding that the disclosure is required 05 because of a medical necessity or other extraordinary circumstance; and 06 (2) the natural parent unless the parent's parental rights have been 07 terminated on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)], the child, 08 and the adoptive parents are afforded proper notice and a hearing; the court may waive 09 the hearing and notice requirement if it finds there is a medical necessity that poses an 10 immediate risk to life. 11 * Sec. 10. AS 25.23.170 is amended to read: 12 Sec. 25.23.170. Applications for birth certificates. Within 30 days after an 13 adoption decree becomes final, the clerk of the court shall, if requested by the adoptive 14 parents, prepare an application for a birth certificate in the name of the adopted 15 person. Upon issuing a decree terminating parental rights on grounds set out in 16 AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)] the court may order the preparation of an 17 application for a birth certificate in the name of the child without reference to the 18 parent whose parental rights have been terminated. The clerk of the court shall 19 forward the application 20 (1) for a person born in the United States, to the appropriate vital 21 statistics office of the place, if known, where the adopted person was born and a copy 22 of the decree to the department for statistical purposes; and 23 (2) for a person born outside the United States to the state registrar of 24 vital statistics. 25 * Sec. 11. AS 25.23.180(c) is amended to read: 26 (c) The relationship of parent and child may be terminated by a court order 27 issued in connection with a proceeding 28 (1) under this chapter or a proceeding under AS 47.10 on the grounds 29 (A) [(1)] specified in AS 47.10.080(o) or 47.10.088; or 30 (B) [(2)] that a parent who does not have custody is 31 unreasonably withholding consent to adoption, contrary to the best interest of
01 the minor child; 02 (2) under this chapter or AS 47.10 or issued in an independent 03 proceeding on the grounds [OR (3)] that the parent committed an act constituting 04 sexual assault, [OR] sexual abuse of a minor, or incest under the laws of this state, or 05 a comparable offense under the laws of the state where the act occurred, that resulted 06 in conception of the child and that termination of the parental rights of the biological 07 parent is in the best interests of the child. 08 * Sec. 12. AS 25.23.180(e) is amended to read: 09 (e) A petition for termination of the relationship of parent and child made in 10 connection with an adoption proceeding or in an independent proceeding for the 11 termination of parental rights on grounds set out in (c)(2) [(c)(3)] of this section may 12 be made by 13 (1) either parent if termination of the relationship is sought with 14 respect to the other parent; 15 (2) the petitioner for adoption, the guardian of the person, the legal 16 custodian of the child, or the individual standing in parental relationship to the child; 17 (3) an agency; or 18 (4) another person having a legitimate interest in the matter. 19 * Sec. 13. AS 25.23.180(g) is amended to read: 20 (g) Notwithstanding the provisions of (b) of this section, a relinquishment of 21 parental rights with respect to a child, executed under this section, may be withdrawn 22 by the parent, and a decree of a court terminating the parent and child relationship on 23 grounds set out in (c)(1) [AND (2)] of this section may be vacated by the court upon 24 motion of the parent, if the child is not on placement for adoption and the person 25 having custody of the child consents in writing to the withdrawal or vacation of the 26 decree. 27 * Sec. 14. AS 25.23.180(h) is amended to read: 28 (h) The respondent to a petition filed for the termination of parental rights on 29 grounds set out in (c)(2) [(c)(3)] of this section is entitled to representation in the 30 proceedings by an attorney. If the respondent is financially unable to employ an 31 attorney, the court shall appoint the office of public advocacy to represent the
01 respondent in the proceedings. 02 * Sec. 15. AS 25.23.180(i) is amended to read: 03 (i) Proceedings for the termination of parental rights on the grounds set out in 04 (c)(2) [(c)(3)] of this section do not affect the rights of a victim of sexual assault, 05 sexual abuse of a minor, or incest to obtain legal and equitable civil remedies for all 06 injuries and damages arising out of the perpetrator's conduct. 07 * Sec. 16. AS 25.23.180 is amended by adding a new subsection to read: 08 (o) A petition for termination of parental rights under (c)(2) of this section 09 may be filed to initiate an independent proceeding not connected to a petition for 10 adoption or a proceeding under AS 47.10. 11 * Sec. 17. AS 44.21.410(a) is amended to read: 12 (a) The office of public advocacy shall 13 (1) perform the duties of the public guardian under AS 13.26.360 - 14 13.26.410; 15 (2) provide visitors and experts in guardianship proceedings under 16 AS 13.26.131; 17 (3) provide guardian ad litem services to children in child protection 18 actions under AS 47.17.030(e) and to wards and respondents in guardianship 19 proceedings who will suffer financial hardship or become dependent upon a 20 government agency or a private person or agency if the services are not provided at 21 state expense under AS 13.26.025; 22 (4) provide legal representation in cases involving judicial bypass 23 procedures for minors seeking abortions under AS 18.16.030, in guardianship 24 proceedings to respondents who are financially unable to employ attorneys under 25 AS 13.26.106(b), to indigent parties in cases involving child custody in which the 26 opposing party is represented by counsel provided by a public agency, and to indigent 27 parents or guardians of a minor respondent in a commitment proceeding concerning 28 the minor under AS 47.30.775; 29 (5) provide legal representation and guardian ad litem services under 30 AS 25.24.310; in cases arising under AS 47.15 (Interstate Compact for Juveniles); in 31 cases involving petitions to adopt a minor under AS 25.23.125(b) or petitions for the
01 termination of parental rights on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) 02 [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)]; in cases involving petitions to remove the disabilities of a minor 03 under AS 09.55.590; in children's proceedings under AS 47.10.050(a) or under 04 AS 47.12.090; in cases involving appointments under AS 18.66.100(a) in petitions for 05 protective orders on behalf of a minor; and in cases involving indigent persons who 06 are entitled to representation under AS 18.85.100 and who cannot be represented by 07 the public defender agency because of a conflict of interests; 08 (6) develop and coordinate a program to recruit, select, train, assign, 09 and supervise volunteer guardians ad litem from local communities to aid in delivering 10 services in cases in which the office of public advocacy is appointed as guardian ad 11 litem; 12 (7) provide guardian ad litem services in proceedings under 13 AS 12.45.046 or AS 18.15.355 - 18.15.395; 14 (8) establish a fee schedule and collect fees for services provided by 15 the office, except as provided in AS 18.85.120 or when imposition or collection of a 16 fee is not in the public interest as defined under regulations adopted by the 17 commissioner of administration; 18 (9) provide visitors and guardians ad litem in proceedings under 19 AS 47.30.839; 20 (10) provide legal representation to an indigent parent of a child with a 21 disability; in this paragraph, "child with a disability" has the meaning given in 22 AS 14.30.350; 23 (11) investigate complaints and bring civil actions under 24 AS 44.21.415(a) involving fraud committed against residents of the state who are 60 25 years of age or older; in this paragraph, "fraud" has the meaning given in 26 AS 44.21.415. 27 * Sec. 18. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to 28 read: 29 INDIRECT COURT RULE AMENDMENTS. AS 25.23.180(c), as amended by sec. 30 11 of this Act, and AS 25.23.180(o), enacted by sec. 16 of this Act, have the effect of 31 amending Rules 1(b) and 6(c), Alaska Adoption Rules, by clarifying that a petition for
01 involuntary termination of parental rights may be filed in a proceeding that is independent 02 from an adoption or a proceeding under AS 47.10 and by restructuring AS 25.23.180(c), 03 which eliminates AS 25.23.180(c)(3).