AN ACT TO MAKE VARIOUS CHANGES UNDER THE LAWS PERTAINING TO ADOPTIONS.
Amends GS 48-2-100, which prohibits state courts from exercising jurisdiction under the Chapter if, at the time an adoption petition is filed, a court of any other state is exercising jurisdiction substantially in conformity with the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA; Article 2, GS Chapter 50A), unless the other state court dismisses its proceeding or releases its exclusive, continuing jurisdiction prior to a grant of the adoption decree. Expands the jurisdiction of state courts under the Chapter to matters in which another state is exercising jurisdiction in substantial conformity with the UCCJEA and places custody of the adoptee in an agency, the petitioner, or another custodian expressly in support of an adoption plan that does not identify a specific prospective adoptive parent other than the petitioner. Makes clarifying changes.
Amends GS 48-2-101, to allow an adoption petition to alternatively be filed in the county in which the adoptee was born if the petition is filed before the adoptee is 6 months old. Provides flexibility to venue choice for adoption petitions, subject to timely written objection by a person or agency entitled to notice under GS 48-2-401(b) or (c), at which time the petitioner must designate a county which satisfies one of the four applicable criteria. Specifies that a change in venue does not change the filing date of the petition or affect any time period under the Chapter.
Amends GS 48-2-205, concerning the recognition of adoption decrees from other jurisdictions. Provides that two persons (was, a man and a woman) who adopted a minor child in a foreign country while married to one another must readopt jointly, regardless of whether they have been since divorced. Adds that if two person have adopted a minor child in a foreign county while married to one another and one of them has died, the survivor can petition for readoption and the court must issue a decree of adoption in the names of both the persons who adopted the minor child in a foreign country. Makes conforming changes to GS 48-2-301(c), concerning who can file adoption petitions.
Makes clarifying and organizational changes to GS 48-2-606, concerning adoption decrees.
Amends GS 48-3-303, concerning information which must be reported in preplacement assessments, to allow for the redaction from the assessment provided to a placing parent or guardian detailed information reflecting the prospective adoptive parent's income, expenditures, assets, and liabilities (was, income and financial account balances).
Amends GS 48-3-605 to now require an individual before whom a consent is signed and acknowledged to certify in writing that to the best of the individual's knowledge or belief, the parent, guardian, or minor to be adopted executing the consent has been advised of the right to seek the advice of legal counsel before executing the consent. Makes identical changes to the provisions regarding the execution of relinquishment set out in GS 48-3-702. Amends GS 48-3-606 and GS 48-3-703 to refer to the right to seek the advice of legal counsel, rather than to employ independent legal counsel, concerning requirements of the consent or the relinquishment executions.
Amends GS 48-9-102 concerning confidentiality and sealing of adoption records. Clarifies that the Department of Social Services, Division of Social Service (DSS) must permanently index and file the records, without review. Now requires DSS to transmit a report of each adoption and name changes to the State Registrar or entity of another state responsible for issuing birth certificates within 40 days after receiving the report from the court (previously, no timeline specified).
Amends GS 48-9-109 to add that nothing in Article 9, Confidentiality of Records and Disclosure of Information, prevents an employee of a court, agency, or any other person from giving a file-stamped copy of a document to a person, or to the legal representative of a person, who has filed the document in an adoption proceeding.
Amends GS 1-597, regarding regulations for newspaper publication of legal notices and advertisements. Provides that whenever a notice or any other paper, document, or legal advertisement of any kind or description is required to be published in a jurisdiction outside of the State where legal notices are customarily published in specialized legal publications, any form of publication that meets the requirements for legal notices under the law of the locality where it is published is deemed sufficient under GS 1-597.
Amends GS 7B-200, regarding jurisdiction over cases involving juveniles alleged to be abused, neglected, or dependent to explicitly include in a court's exclusive original jurisdiction proceedings for the return of a juvenile to the State and proceedings to review a refusal or failure of the administrator of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (the Compact; set forth in Article 38, GS Chapter 7B) in the State to forward a request for approval of a placement to the receiving state or to find that placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child. Enacts GS 7B-3807 to provide for such judicial proceedings under the Compact. Provides for initiation of the review by motion in a pending action, as specified, or by petition. Requires the administrator to communicate an intention to refuse to forward a request for approval of a placement to the receiving state or to find that a placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child, or for the matter to have been before the administrator for more than five business days, before a motion or petition is to be filed. Requires notice of the motion or petition for review to be given to the administrator by any reasonable means. Provides for venue in instances in which there is not a pending action as to the juvenile, as specified, in a court in the State. Deems this review to be an expedited proceeding, and requires the court to conduct a hearing within 10 days from the date of filing the petition or during the next term of court, as appropriate, and authorizes the court to order the administrator to take any action the administrator is permitted to take.
Amends GS 150B-1 to exempt the from the contested case provisions the Department of Health and Human Services in administering the Compact under Article 38, GS Chapter 7B.
Effective October 1, 2019.