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August 2019 Archives

Your Child's School District

If you are separated from your child's other parent and do not reside in the same school district, you need to have a discussion as to which school your child will attend. Selecting a school district is an example of an education decision that should be discussed in the context of shared legal custody. Custody orders address both physical custody, which is the schedule parties follow, as well as legal custody, which is who makes important decisions for the child(ren). If the parties ultimately cannot agree on a school district, the court could intervene to make the final determination. Other decisions parents should consult with one another on include healthcare and religion.

Child Support Awareness

Child support in Pennsylvania is based on statewide guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The guidelines set support based on the combined net monthly income of the parents as well as the number of children involved. August is National Child Support Awareness Month. August has been dedicated to child support awareness since 1995 when President Clinton began it as part of his welfare reform agenda. All 50 states participate in child support awareness month. The purpose of raising awareness is to improve the collection of child support payments. The preferred method of collection is wage garnishment. Pennsylvania does use wage garnishment as a means of securing consistent payment.

Adoption - Other adult household members

Background checks are required for all prospective parents in an adoption matter. In Pennsylvania, there are three background checks that are required: Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance through the Department of Human Services, Pennsylvania Criminal Record Checks through the State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Criminal Background Check through the Department of Welfare. These same background checks must also be completed for all other adult household members where the adoptee will reside. At this time, requests for checks for the Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance and Pennsylvania Criminal Record can be done online. The FBI Criminal Background check does require fingerprinting to complete. An appointment is recommended and can be made online. You will need to bring certain forms of ID to your appointment and should specify the check is for prospective adoption.

Adoption Costs

There are numerous costs involved in an adoption action. The total amount of expenses will vary depending on the nature of the adoption. For example, a kinship or family adoption where the natural parent(s) are cooperating with the adoption will have different costs than a case where the adoption is contested by the natural parent(s) or if the adoption is not kinship. Prospective parents will need to have background checks done prior to the adoption. Pennsylvania presently requires three (3) different background checks. Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance through the Department of Human Services, Pennsylvania Criminal Record Checks through the State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Criminal Background Check through the Department of Welfare. The costs are nominal for each of these inquiries. A home study is required for a non-kinship adoption. Due to the intensive inquiry that must be completed, this is usually a fairly substantial cost ($700+). A home study is not required for a family adoption.

Termination and Adoption

Termination of a biological parent's rights and adoption often go hand in hand. A prospective parent cannot adopt without termination of the biological parent's rights. A biological parent cannot voluntarily terminate their rights or sign a child away without another party stepping in to adopt. The parental rights of a biological parent can be involuntarily terminated in connection with an adoption matter as well. Pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. ยง 2511, there are nine (9) grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights. 

Consent of Adoptee

Before an adoption can be finalized, certain parties must consent to the adoption. Pursuant to 23 Pa. C.S. Section 2711, a consent must be signed by the following individuals where applicable: (1) the child(ren) being adopted if over 12 years of age; (2) the spouse of the adopting parent if that spouse is not also a petitioner; (3) the natural parent(s) of any minor child(ren) being adopted; (4) the guardian of an incapacitated child up for adoption; and (5) the guardian of a minor child or persons having custody when the adoptee has no parent whose consent is required. Only the consent of the adoptee is needed for an adult adoption. The adoptee must voluntarily consent to the adoption by the prospective parents as well as name change, if applicable.

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