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On April 20, 2022 LB741 was approved, which resulted in significant changes to the adoption process in Nebraska. For example, the bill addressed the issue of a minor child proceeding in their own name to challenge an adoption. LB741 carved out an exception within Nebraska law that the validity of relinquishment and consent for adoption is not affected by the fact that the relinquishing person is a minor. Therefore, under the new laws minors can file and defend a petition objecting to adoption.
Another change that LB741 made was to the rights of a relinquishing parent. Specifically, LB741 gave relinquishing parents the legal right to counseling and right to an attorney. Under the law, relinquishing parents are entitled to three (3) hours of professional counseling before relinquishment. As well, in private adoptions relinquishing parents are now required to be provided legal counsel of their choice.
LB741 also made changes to adoption of a child born out of wedlock. It now requires that in these cases the biological mother of the child shall complete and sign an affidavit of identification in writing and under oath. Along with that, LB741 created three legal categories of unwed fathers. The first category is an acknowledged father, who is an individual who has executed a valid acknowledgment of paternity or has established a familial relationship with the child for a period of at least six months. The second category of unwed father is an adjudicated father. This is an individual who has been determined by a court to be the legal or biological father of the child. The last category is putative father. A putative father is an individual who does not fit into the first two categories but is suspected or possible biological fathers of a newborn.
For the adoption of a child born out of wedlock, the bill made changes to the required notice of adoption to unwed fathers. Nebraska law now requires that notice to unwed fathers needs to attempt to inform the biological father of his rights. The contents of this notice must be changed and expanded depending on individual circumstances of the conception and the notice needs to detail whether you consider the father to be an acknowledged father, adjudicated father, or a putative father.
LB741 also made a change to the deadline for filing an objection to adoption depending on the category of father. Putative fathers must file in the putative father registry within ten (10) business days after receiving notice or ten (10) business days after birth of the child, whichever is later. If the putative father fails to do this his consent is no longer needed for the adoption. Putative fathers must then follow up and file a lawsuit protesting the adoption within forty-five (45) days after birth or receiving notice of adoption, whichever is later. Acknowledged and adjudicated fathers have forty-five (45) days after receiving notice or the child’s birth, whichever is later, to file a petition objecting to the adoption and alleging that their consent is required.
If you are considering adopting a child, have questions about adoption, or just want to speak with the family law attorneys at Berkshire & Burmeister, please give us a call or contact us today!