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Legal Statutes: Alaska

UPDATED September 14, 2017

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Chapter 23. ADOPTION

back to topSec. 25.23.180. Relinquishment and termination of parent and child relationships

(a) The rights of a parent with reference to a child, including parental right to control the child or to withhold consent to an adoption, may be relinquished and the relationship of parent and child terminated in or before an adoption proceeding as provided in this section.

(b) All rights of a parent with reference to a child, including the right to receive notice of a hearing on a petition for adoption, may be relinquished and the relationship of parent and child terminated by a writing, signed by the parent, regardless of the age of the parent, a copy of which shall be given to the parent,

(1) in the presence of a representative of an agency taking custody of the child, whether the agency is within or outside of the state or in the presence and with the approval of a court within or outside of this state in which the minor was present or in which the parent resided at the time it was signed, which relinquishment may be withdrawn within 10 days after it is signed or the child is born, whichever is later; and the relinquishment is invalid unless it states that the parent has this right of withdrawal; or

(2) in any other situation if the petitioner has had custody of the minor for two years, but only if notice of the adoption proceeding has been given to the parent and the court finds, after considering the circumstances of the relinquishment and the long continued custody by the petitioner, that the best interest of the child requires the granting of adoption.

(c) The relationship of parent and child may be terminated by a court order issued in connection with a proceeding under this chapter or a proceeding under AS 47.10 on the grounds

(1) specified in AS 47.10.080(o) or 47.10.088;

(2) that a parent who does not have custody is unreasonably withholding consent to adoption, contrary to the best interest of the minor child; or

(3) that the parent committed an act constituting sexual assault or sexual abuse of a minor under the laws of this state or a comparable offense under the laws of the state where the act occurred that resulted in conception of the child and that termination of the parental rights of the biological parent is in the best interests of the child.

(d) For the purpose of an adoption proceeding under this chapter, a decree issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in this or another state terminating all rights of a parent with reference to a child or the relationship of parent and child dispenses with the required

(1) consent by that parent to an adoption of that child; and

(2) notice of a proceeding to that parent unless otherwise required by this section.

(e) A petition for termination of the relationship of parent and child made in connection with an adoption proceeding or in an independent proceeding for the termination of parental rights on grounds set out in (c)(3) of this section may be made by

(1) either parent if termination of the relationship is sought with respect to the other parent;

(2) the petitioner for adoption, the guardian of the person, the legal custodian of the child, or the individual standing in parental relationship to the child;

(3) an agency; or

(4) another person having a legitimate interest in the matter.

(f) Before the petition is heard, notice of the hearing on the petition and opportunity to be heard shall be given the parents of the child, the guardian of the person of the child, the person having legal custody of the child, and, in the discretion of the court, a person appointed to represent any party.

(g) Notwithstanding the provisions of (b) of this section, a relinquishment of parental rights with respect to a child, executed under this section, may be withdrawn by the parent, and a decree of a court terminating the parent and child relationship on grounds set out in (c)(1) and (2) of this section may be vacated by the court upon motion of the parent, if the child is not on placement for adoption and the person having custody of the child consents in writing to the withdrawal or vacation of the decree.

(h) The respondent to a petition filed for the termination of parental rights on grounds set out in (c)(3) of this section is entitled to representation in the proceedings by an attorney. If the respondent is financially unable to employ an attorney, the court shall appoint the office of public advocacy to represent the respondent in the proceedings.

(i) Proceedings for the termination of parental rights on the grounds set out in (c)(3) of this section do not affect the rights of a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor, or incest to obtain legal and equitable civil remedies for all injuries and damages arising out of the perpetrator's conduct.

(j) In a relinquishment of parental rights executed under (a) of this section, a parent may retain privileges with respect to the child, including the ability to have future contact, communication, and visitation with the child. A retained privilege must be stated in writing with specificity. Not less than 10 days after the relinquishment is signed, the court may enter an order terminating parental rights if the court finds that termination of parental rights under the terms of the agreement is in the child's best interest. If a parent has retained one or more privileges, the court shall incorporate the retained privileges into the termination order with a recommendation that the retained privileges be incorporated in an adoption or legal guardianship decree.

(k) A voluntary relinquishment may not be withdrawn and a termination order may not be vacated on the ground that a retained privilege has been withheld from the relinquishing parent or that the relinquishing parent has been unable, for any reason, to act on a retained privilege, except as provided in Rule 60(b), Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure.

(l) After a termination order is entered, a person who has voluntarily relinquished parental rights under this section may request a review hearing, upon a showing of good cause, to seek enforcement or modification of or to vacate a privilege retained in the termination order. The court may modify, enforce, or vacate the retained privilege if the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that it is in the best interest of the child to do so.

(m) After a termination order is entered and before the entry of an adoption or legal guardianship decree, a prospective adoptive parent or a guardian of a child who is the subject of an adoption decree may request, after providing notice as specified under this subsection, that the court decline to incorporate a privilege retained in a termination order and recommended for incorporation in an adoption or guardianship decree under (j) of this section. The request made under this subsection may only be considered by the court after providing at least 20 days' notice by certified mail to the last known address of the person who has voluntarily relinquished parental rights to the child. The notice under this subsection must describe the request and explain that the recipient of the notice may submit a written statement under penalty of perjury to the court that the recipient either agrees with or opposes the request. The notice must also include the deadline for submitting the statement and the mailing address of the court. The court may decline to incorporate a retained privilege if the person who retained the privilege agrees with the request or if the court finds that it is in the child's best interest.

(n) A person who relinquished parental rights is entitled to the appointment of an attorney if a hearing is requested under (l) or (m) of this section to the same extent as if the parent's rights had not been terminated in a child-in-need-of-aid proceeding.

SLA 1974, ch. 84, § 1; SLA 1985, ch. 21, § 32; SLA 1987, ch. 50, §§ 10--13; SLA 1998, ch. 99, § 12; SLA 2005, ch. 64, § 4. Amended by SLA 2013, ch. 43, § 31, eff. July 1, 2013.