Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Proposed Utah adoption bill draws criticism

The legal system has a bad reputation in many ways. Many people's interactions with the legal system involve conflict or turmoil, such as criminal cases, litigation between individuals or businesses or contentious family law cases like divorces.

Not every interaction with the legal system is seen in this light, however, as there are certain occasions that are joyous for all involved. For example, an adoption is an event that is often looked forward to for many months, or even years, by parents and children alike.

This is not to say that adoptions never involve contentious legal issues that must be resolved. Recently, for instance, a Utah State Representative sponsored legislation that would impose a preference under state law for a child to have a married mother and father. The legislation has been called unconstitutional in favoring heterosexual couples over same-sex couples, in light of last year's Supreme Court ruling that recognized the validity of same-sex marriage.

The sponsor of the bill said it would apply only to those children in state custody, rather than a private adoption. In addition, a same-sex adoptive parent would be given preference if they were related to the child, according to the sponsor of the bill.

It remains to be seen whether the bill will actually become law in Utah. However, the debate over the bill illustrates how even joyous occasions like adoptions can involve important legal issues that must be resolved. It is vital that those individuals who are proceeding with an adoption understand all of the legal issues that must be resolved in their particular case, as well as how to handle those issues appropriately to make the adoption successful.

Source: New York Times, "Gay rights advocates vow to fight Utah bill on adoptions," Jan. 30, 2016

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