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Adoption nullified due to appeals process

An Arizona man retained his parental rights in a ruling by the Court of Appeals, nullifying an adoption by the foster parents. The decision, which was made by the three-judge panel in a 2-to-1 ruling, comes as a decisive reminder to everyone involved in custody proceedings.

The case involved two children fathered by a man from Arizona. The children had apparently been taken by Child Protective Services and placed into foster care. The State then moved to terminate the man's parental rights, which would have opened the children up for adoption. The man's rights were terminated, and a Mohave County Superior Court judge allowed the State to proceed with allowing the foster parents to adopt the children. The man, however, appealed the termination of his parental rights. Since his legal rights status was not fully resolved, the appellate court dictated that an adoption process could not continue and should probably not have been started in the first place.

In the opinions resulting from the decision, one judge stated that a juvenile judge cannot act on new legal matters involving a child so long as there is a pending appeal on a previous matter. In this case, the foster parent adoption was a new matter, and the termination of parental rights from the biological father was pending appeal. The decision showcases court rules that suggest that it is better to allow all previous matters to be fully resolved, including the appeals process, before moving forward on anything involving child custody.

Child custody cases can be complicated legal matters. As this case highlights, it is extremely important to be sure of the final termination parental rights before moving forward with any adoption proceedings. Those seeking to retain custody of their children might benefit from discussing their particular case with an attorney.

Source: Camp Verde Bugle, "Appeals Court nullifies adoption", Howard Fischer, August 19, 2014

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