What is an Independent Adoption Under Maryland Family Law?
Independent adoption occurs without the assistance of a child placement agency, whether public or private. A common example of independent adoption is when a divorced parent gets remarried. Independent adoption can allow the new spouse to become a parent by adopting their partner’s child.
Eligibility for Independent Adoption
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3B-13 establishes that any adult or minor child may be the subject of an independent adoption. Though an adult must file a petition with the state courts. And if such an adult is married, their spouse will generally join in the petition for adoption.
Requirements for Independent Adoption
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3B-12 provides the requirements for independent adoption. Under this section, adoption is usually reserved for circumstances where:
- A parent or grandparent files a petition for adoption; and
- A state court issues an order sanctioning the petition for adoption.
There is an exception to Section 5-3B-12. This section does not apply to independent adoptions where the new parent is related to the child by blood or marriage, within four degrees.
Awarding Independent Adoption
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3B-20 supplies the conditions under which a state court may grant an independent adoption. The Maryland courts may only grant independent adoption if the prospective adoptee’s:
- Living parents consent to the adoption in writing or by failing to file a timely objection;
- Guardian or custodian consents to the adoption; or
- The prospective adoptee consents to the adoption, if they are at least 10 years old.
Nonconsensual Independent Adoption
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-3B-22 does allow independent adoption without consent from the living parents. But this section only applies to situations where a living parent files a notice of objection to the adoption, thereby withholding their consent.
In these cases, there are two different sets of requirements. First, a custodian may complete the adoption if they:
- Held responsibility for the care, control, or custody of the prospective adoptee for a minimum of 180 days; and
- Demonstrate a significant connection to the prospective adoptee in terms of emotional ties and feelings.
Second, the prospective adoptee’s living parent must have:
- Relinquished custody of the prospective adoptee for at least 12 months;
- Failed to maintain any significant or meaningful contact with the prospective adoptee;
- Neglected to contribute to the prospective adoptee’s support or care;
- Inflicted chronic abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, or torture upon the prospective adoptee;
- Lost their parental rights to a sibling of the prospective adoptee; or
- Been previously convicted of an act of abuse against any offspring or a crime violence against certain family members.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you have legal questions about adoption in Maryland, it can be enormously helpful to contact a talented family law attorney. The Bel Air adoption attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered are prepared to help you with your case. Contact us today for assistance.