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30th Legislature(2017-2018)

Bill Text 30th Legislature


00 Enrolled SB 134                                                                                                         
01 Relating to the appointment of guardians ad litem; relating to petitions and proceedings for                            
02 termination of parental rights; and amending Rule 90.3, Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure, and                            
03 Rules 1 and 6, Alaska Adoption Rules.                                                                                   
04                           _______________                                                                               
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) and (f) of this section, a decree terminating                                          
29 parental rights on the grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)]                                     
30 voids all legal relationships between the child and the biological parent so that the                                   
31 child is a stranger to the biological parent and to relatives of the biological parent for                              
01       all 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 25.23.130 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:                                                
10 (f)  A decree ordering termination of parental rights between a biological                                              
11 parent and a child on the grounds specified in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) does not relieve the                                  
12 biological parent of an obligation to pay child support unless the decree specifically                                  
13 provides for the termination of the obligation to pay child support. A child support                                    
14 obligation under this subsection does not entitle the obligor to contact or otherwise                                   
15       maintain a relationship with the child.                                                                           
16    * Sec. 7. AS 25.23.140(c) is amended to read:                                                                        
17 (c)  Subject to the disposition of an appeal, one year after a decree is issued                                         
18 terminating parental rights on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2)                                                  
19 [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)], the order may not be challenged on any ground, including fraud,                                   
20 misrepresentation, failure to give notice, or lack of jurisdiction of the parties or of the                             
21       subject matter.                                                                                                   
22    * Sec. 8. AS 25.23.150(b) is amended to read:                                                                        
23 (b)  The papers and records relating to an adoption or a termination of parental                                        
24 rights under AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)] that are a part of the permanent                                 
25 record of a court are subject to inspection only upon consent of the court. The papers                                  
26 and records relating to an adoption or a termination of parental rights under                                           
27 AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)] on file with the department, an agency, or an                                 
28 individual are subject to inspection only with consent of all interested persons or by                                  
29 order of a court for good cause shown. Except as provided in this section, adoption                                     
30 records of the Bureau of Vital Statistics are subject to inspection under the provisions                                
31       of AS 18.50.                                                                                                      
01    * Sec. 9. AS 25.23.150(c) is amended to read:                                                                        
02 (c)  Except as otherwise provided by law, or as authorized in writing by the                                            
03 adopted child, if 14 or more years of age, or by the adoptive parent, or upon order of                                  
04 the court for good cause shown, a person may not disclose the identity or address of an                                 
05 adoptive parent, an adopted child, a child who is the subject of a proceeding under                                     
06 AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)], or a biological parent whose parental rights                                 
07 have been terminated on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)].                                   
08    * Sec. 10. AS 25.23.150(d) is amended to read:                                                                       
09            (d)  The court may order the disclosure of a natural parent's identity or address                            
10       only if                                                                                                           
11 (1)  the court makes an express finding that the disclosure is required                                                 
12       because of a medical necessity or other extraordinary circumstance; and                                           
13 (2)  the natural parent unless the parent's parental rights have been                                                   
14 terminated on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)], the child,                                  
15 and the adoptive parents are afforded proper notice and a hearing; the court may waive                                  
16 the hearing and notice requirement if it finds there is a medical necessity that poses an                               
17       immediate risk to life.                                                                                           
18    * Sec. 11. AS 25.23.170 is amended to read:                                                                          
19 Sec. 25.23.170. Applications for birth certificates. Within 30 days after an                                            
20 adoption decree becomes final, the clerk of the court shall, if requested by the adoptive                               
21 parents, prepare an application for a birth certificate in the name of the adopted                                      
22 person. Upon issuing a decree terminating parental rights on grounds set out in                                         
23 AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [AS 25.23.180(c)(3)] the court may order the preparation of an                                     
24 application for a birth certificate in the name of the child without reference to the                                   
25 parent whose parental rights have been terminated. The clerk of the court shall                                         
26       forward the application                                                                                           
27 (1)  for a person born in the United States, to the appropriate vital                                                   
28 statistics office of the place, if known, where the adopted person was born and a copy                                  
29       of the decree to the department for statistical purposes; and                                                     
30 (2)  for a person born outside the United States to the state registrar of                                              
31       vital statistics.                                                                                                 
01    * Sec. 12. AS 25.23.180(c) is amended to read:                                                                       
02            (c)  The relationship of parent and child may be terminated by a court order                                 
03       issued in connection with a proceeding                                                                            
04                 (1)  under this chapter or a proceeding under AS 47.10 on the grounds                                 
05                      (A) [(1)]  specified in AS 47.10.080(o) or 47.10.088; or                                       
06                      (B) [(2)]  that a parent who does not have custody is                                            
07            unreasonably withholding consent to adoption, contrary to the best interest of                               
08            the minor child;                                                                                             
09                 (2)  under this chapter, a proceeding under AS 47.10, or an                                           
10 independent proceeding on the grounds [OR (3)] that the parent committed an act                                       
11 constituting sexual assault, [OR] sexual abuse of a minor, or incest under the laws of                              
12 this state, or a comparable offense under the laws of the state where the act occurred,                             
13 that resulted in conception of the child and that termination of the parental rights of the                             
14       biological parent is in the best interests of the child.                                                          
15    * Sec. 13. AS 25.23.180(e) is amended to read:                                                                       
16 (e)  A petition for termination of the relationship of parent and child made in                                         
17 connection with an adoption proceeding or in an independent proceeding for the                                          
18 termination of parental rights on grounds set out in (c)(2) [(c)(3)] of this section may                              
19       be made by                                                                                                        
20 (1)  either parent if termination of the relationship is sought with                                                    
21       respect to the other parent;                                                                                      
22 (2)  the petitioner for adoption, the guardian of the person, the legal                                                 
23       custodian of the child, or the individual standing in parental relationship to the child;                         
24                 (3)  an agency; or                                                                                      
25                 (4)  another person having a legitimate interest in the matter.                                         
26    * Sec. 14. AS 25.23.180(g) is amended to read:                                                                       
27 (g)  Notwithstanding the provisions of (b) of this section, a relinquishment of                                         
28 parental rights with respect to a child, executed under this section, may be withdrawn                                  
29 by the parent, and a decree of a court terminating the parent and child relationship on                                 
30 grounds set out in (c)(1) [AND (2)] of this section may be vacated by the court upon                                    
31 motion of the parent, if the child is not on placement for adoption and the person                                      
01       having custody of the child consents in writing to the withdrawal or vacation of the                              
02       decree.                                                                                                           
03    * Sec. 15. AS 25.23.180(h) is amended to read:                                                                       
04 (h)  The respondent to a petition filed for the termination of parental rights on                                       
05 grounds set out in (c)(2) [(c)(3)] of this section is entitled to representation in the                               
06 proceedings by an attorney. If the respondent is financially unable to employ an                                        
07 attorney, the court shall appoint the office of public advocacy to represent the                                        
08       respondent in the proceedings.                                                                                    
09    * Sec. 16. AS 25.23.180(i) is amended to read:                                                                       
10 (i)  Proceedings for the termination of parental rights on the grounds set out in                                       
11 (c)(2) [(c)(3)] of this section do not affect the rights of a victim of sexual assault,                               
12 sexual abuse of a minor, or incest to obtain legal and equitable civil remedies for all                                 
13       injuries and damages arising out of the perpetrator's conduct.                                                    
14    * Sec. 17. AS 25.23.180 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:                                               
15 (o)  A petition for termination of parental rights under (c)(2) of this section                                         
16 may be filed to initiate an independent proceeding not connected to a petition for                                      
17       adoption or a proceeding under AS 47.10.                                                                          
18    * Sec. 18. AS 44.21.410(a) is amended to read:                                                                       
19            (a)  The office of public advocacy shall                                                                     
20 (1)  perform the duties of the public guardian under AS 13.26.700 -                                                     
21       13.26.750;                                                                                                        
22 (2)  provide visitors and experts in guardianship proceedings under                                                     
23       AS 13.26.291;                                                                                                     
24 (3)  provide guardian ad litem services to children in child protection                                                 
25 actions under AS 47.17.030(e) and to wards and respondents in guardianship                                              
26 proceedings who will suffer financial hardship or become dependent upon a                                               
27 government agency or a private person or agency if the services are not provided at                                     
28       state expense under AS 13.26.041;                                                                                 
29 (4)  provide legal representation in cases involving judicial bypass                                                    
30 procedures for minors seeking abortions under AS 18.16.030, in guardianship                                             
31 proceedings to respondents who are financially unable to employ attorneys under                                         
01 AS 13.26.226(b), to indigent parties in cases involving child custody in which the                                      
02 opposing party is represented by counsel provided by a public agency, and to indigent                                   
03 parents or guardians of a minor respondent in a commitment proceeding concerning                                        
04       the minor under AS 47.30.775;                                                                                     
05 (5)  provide legal representation and guardian ad litem services under                                                  
06 AS 25.24.310; in cases arising under AS 47.15 (Interstate Compact for Juveniles); in                                    
07 cases involving petitions to adopt a minor under AS 25.23.125(b) or petitions for the                                   
08 termination of parental rights under AS 25.23.180(c)(2) [ON GROUNDS SET OUT                                           
09 IN AS 25.23.180(c)(3)]; in cases involving petitions to remove the disabilities of a                                    
10 minor under AS 09.55.590; in children's proceedings under AS 47.10.050(a) or under                                      
11 AS 47.12.090; in cases involving appointments under AS 18.66.100(a) in petitions for                                    
12 protective orders on behalf of a minor; and in cases involving indigent persons who                                     
13 are entitled to representation under AS 18.85.100 and who cannot be represented by                                      
14       the public defender agency because of a conflict of interests;                                                    
15 (6)  develop and coordinate a program to recruit, select, train, assign,                                                
16 and supervise volunteer guardians ad litem from local communities to aid in delivering                                  
17 services in cases in which the office of public advocacy is appointed as guardian ad                                    
18       litem;                                                                                                            
19 (7)  provide guardian ad litem services in proceedings under                                                            
20       AS 12.45.046 or AS 18.15.355 - 18.15.395;                                                                         
21 (8)  establish a fee schedule and collect fees for services provided by                                                 
22 the office, except as provided in AS 18.85.120 or when imposition or collection of a                                    
23 fee is not in the public interest as defined under regulations adopted by the                                           
24       commissioner of administration;                                                                                   
25 (9)  provide visitors and guardians ad litem in proceedings under                                                       
26       AS 47.30.839;                                                                                                     
27 (10)  provide legal representation to an indigent parent of a child with a                                              
28 disability; in this paragraph, "child with a disability" has the meaning given in                                       
29       AS 14.30.350;                                                                                                     
30 (11)  investigate complaints and bring civil actions under                                                              
31 AS 44.21.415(a) involving fraud committed against residents of the state who are 60                                     
01       years of age or older; in this paragraph, "fraud" has the meaning given in                                        
02       AS 44.21.415.                                                                                                     
03    * Sec. 19. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to                           
04 read:                                                                                                                   
05 INDIRECT COURT RULE AMENDMENTS. (a) AS 25.23.130(f), enacted by sec. 6                                                  
06 of this Act, has the effect of amending Rule 90.3, Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure, by                                  
07 providing that a termination of parental rights under AS 25.23.180(c)(2), as amended by sec.                            
08 12 of this Act, does not relieve a biological parent of an obligation to pay child support.                             
09       (b)  AS 25.23.180(c), as amended by sec. 12 of this Act, and AS 25.23.180(o), enacted                             
10 by sec. 17 of this Act, have the effect of amending Rules 1(b) and 6(c), Alaska Adoption                                
11 Rules, by clarifying that a petition for involuntary termination of parental rights may be filed                        
12 in a proceeding that is independent from an adoption or a proceeding under AS 47.10 and by                              
13 restructuring AS 25.23.180(c), which eliminates AS 25.23.180(c)(3).                                                     
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