Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Change in marriage laws open doors for new foster families

Adoption, when done right, is one of the few transactions in this world that benefits everyone involved. While the process may be grueling, the end results are worth it for an overwhelming number of those who have gone through the process. There are few federal laws that govern the adoption process and even fewer that govern what happens after an adoption has been finalized. For this reason, states are the main entities that govern the adoption process. In Utah, adoption laws have recently changed after a string of court battles have played out in support of the rights of same sex couples.

Since the ban on same-sex marriage in Utah was lifted, couples are now able to become foster and adoptive parents. But even with changes in marriage laws, those wishing to become foster parents must still abide by other guidelines. In Utah, only those who are legally married, single or are not cohabitating with a partner can be foster parents, a hurdle that many same-sex couples were unable to clear prior to the same-sex marriage ban being lifted. Many are excited about the change as it opens up a whole new resource that previously went untapped and who may be able to open their homes to one or more of the 2,700 children currently in Utah's foster care system.

In order to become a foster parent in Utah, an individual or couple must pass several screenings. The requirements for prospective foster parents are governed by statute and industry standards. There are several red flags that will prevent someone from becoming a foster parent. The first is any history of abusing a child. A person also will be disqualified if he or she abuses or is addicted to drugs or alcohol or has a felony conviction.

Every child deserves to grow up in a loving home with parents who have the child's best interest at heart. With this change in law, more children will be able to experience the joys of family.

Source: Fox 13 Salt Lake City, "For the first time, same-sex couples can be foster parents in Utah," Ben Winslow, Nov. 26, 2014

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