Kentucky Bankruptcy Law

Counsel with Care

Adoption statutes require strict compliance

Adoption can be an expensive proposition and I have been asked on occasion if a person can do their adoption pro se (on their own and without a lawyer). Actually, this question tends to come up in family law matters in general far more than in other areas of law. I hear this question about self-representation even less often in bankruptcy where folks clearly are in dire straits financially. My response is typically yes, you can but . . .. Then I relate to them a show I saw on Discovery or TLC about a man who was out hiking and became trapped when a boulder rolled onto his arm. He would have died out in this ravine had he not amputated his own arm with a pocket knife (the tv show assured me this was a true story). Anyway, in this graphic and slightly grotesque story the man did what he had to do to survive, but it had to be exceedingly painful and extremely messy. Representing oneself in a family law matter can be just like that: exceedingly painful and extremely messy.

That answer seems to ring intuitively true for people in divorce situations, but many assume that since an adoption is a happy occasion and that judges love putting families together rather than tearing them apart, that one could handle it without a lawyer. The contrary is actually true. In the recent Kentucky Court of Appeals decision R.M. v. R.B., 2008-CA-001099-ME, (2009, to be published), the Court reminds us that “[b]ecause adoption is a statutory right, Kentucky Courts require strict compliance with the statutory procedures to protect the rights of natural parents.” The statutory framework for adoption contained in KRS 199 has many “if, then” kinds of provisions requiring careful navigation even by seasoned adoption attorneys. Because of this strict compliance requirment, adoption is the least likely area of family law where one should proceed pro se. At the very least, consult with an attorney that is knowledgeable in adoptions to see if there are any “boulders” in your particulare situation that need to be dealt with.

March 8, 2009 - Posted by | Adoption, child custody, Divorce, Family Law, Uncategorized

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