April 3, 2015

An orphan is a vulnerable child left without adequate familial provision and protection from evil.  There is real evil in the world – evil that will always seek to abuse, neglect, and rob vulnerable children.  Orphan Law is that body of law that relates to addressing and alleviating the affliction of these vulnerable children.
This week, Alabama’s appellate courts released two new opinions that affect orphans and their families. 

The first case of the week is A.H. v. B.C., 2120877 (April 3, 2015), drafted by Judge Moore.  This decision arises out of the same facts and circumstances of Ex parte B.C., 1130250 (January 30, 2015), wherein the Court of Civil Appeals (Civs) held that, when the mother of a child brings a TPR petition against the father, there is no need to assert dependency. 
The issue in the case at hand deals with the father’s argument that the juvenile court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the mother did not file her TPR petition in compliance with § 12-15-120, Code of Alabama.  Said code section requires that at a TPR petition, when alleged in conjunction with a dependency allegation, must be filed with the juvenile court intake officer. 
The Civs held that the mother’s failure to comply with the filing requirements of § 12-15-120, did not divest the juvenile court of subject matter jurisdiction.  This decision is another helpful installment for the orphan-care community in understanding the appropriate procedure for the termination of parental rights of absent fathers, when initiated by the child’s mother.
The second case of the week is S.S. v. T.Y. and D.Y., 2140045 (April 3, 2015), drafted by Presiding Judge Thompson.  The facts of this case are definitely esoteric, but the issue and result are far too common.  The juvenile court took custody of two of the mother’s children away from her and gave them to the petitioners.  That’s basically the entirety of the pertinent details that the Civs give us in this case, however, this is the second time the case has been before the Civs. The initial case was affirmed with no opinion on September 12, 2014, and styled as T.Y. v. S.S..
The issue the Civs resolved in this round of proceedings was whether the mother timely filed her Notice of Appeal.  Pursuant to juvenile law, a Notice of Appeal must be filed within 14 days of the entry or denial of a post-judgment motion (also, remember to keep in mind that a post-judgment motion is denied by operation of law after 14 days in the juvenile court).  In the case at hand, the mother filed three post-judgment motions.  However, the Civs held that the last two post-judgment motions were repetitive and basically identical to the first.  Therefore, they declined to treat the last two post-judgment motions as new motions for the purpose of calculating the time for appeal. 
As a result, the Civs dismissed the appeal as being untimely filed.  This case is a reminder to orphan-care advocates to be persnickety about timelines—especially the appeal timelines, which can be unforgiving.  This case also gives a window into the unique situation where a party files multiple post-judgment motions.

Update on House Bill 48

In case you missed it in Wednesday's Newsletter (available here), above is a video in which Sam McLure describes some updates to the status and progress of HB 48.

Update on Alabama Child Care Provider Inclusion Act of 2015

Last week, we discussed the Alabama Child Care Provider Inclusion Act. This bill is still in progress, and if you are interested in helping to ensure that religious orphan-care organizations can continue to operate without having to compromise their convictions, we would appreciate your support in promoting this bill.
Please feel free to look over the specific language of the bill here (which may be modified during the finalization process), especially if you have any concerns or reservations. We believe that, although similar legislation has been unpopular in other states, this particular bill stands out as being commonsensical with a true heart and commitment to what is best for the children of Alabama.
If you would like to send a letter in support of this bill, you may find this template helpful.

Changes to ICWA Implementation


Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn recently announced that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) had published some proposed additions and changes to the Indian Child Welfare Act.

According to Washburn, “The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ proposed rule clarifies and strengthens implementation of the Act’s requirements in Indian child custody proceedings to ensure that Indian families and tribal communities do not face the unwarranted removal of their youngest and most vulnerable members.”

There has been feedback from the orphan-care community that the new regulations could have a chilling effect on dependency cases, termination of parental rights (TPR), and adoptions of Indian children.  However, the exact effect will have to be determined as the changes play out in real time.  

For the full press release, click here.

An additional teleconference meeting is listed here on May 12th, for those who may be interested in providing feedback or comments on the proposed changes.

We have great news for those interested in adoption law! Our founding attorney, Sam McLure, will be teaching a CLE course on adoption law through the Montgomery County Bar Association on Thursday, April 9, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Read more...

No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

Samuel J. McLure, Esq.
Copyright © 2015 The Adoption Law Firm, All rights reserved.

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