Parents enjoy certain legal rights in regards to their children. In Oklahoma, these rights include the ability to make decisions concerning their child's health and well-being, the right to physical custody or visitation, and the responsibility to provide financial support. The state recognizes the importance of parents' rights, as well as the bond between parents and children, and seeks to maintain them whenever possible. However, there are times when changes to parental rights may be appropriate, such as in an adoption, guardianship, or in cases involving the abuse or neglect of a child.
Whether you're hoping to move forward with an adoption, challenge the adoption of your child, or defend yourself against accusations—including criminal charges—of abuse or neglect, you need effective and results-focused legal representation. Thankfully, that's just what you'll find at the Law Office of Aaron D. Bundy, PLC. Our highly-skilled and extensively-trained attorneys help clients dealing with parental rights issues protect their rights and accomplish their legal goals. Here's what you need to know.
Understanding Parental Rights in Oklahoma Adoptions
Oklahoma recognized two main types of adoption: unrelated adoptions, in which the adoptive parents have no relations to the child they're adopting and related adoptions, in which the adoptive parents are related to the child by blood or marriage (usually as a stepparent or grandparent).
Successful related and unrelated adoptions result in termination of one or both biological parents' parental rights, which is why the state requires you to gain their consent before an adoption can be finalized (unless the biological parents are deceased or have already lost their parental rights). Getting a biological parent to agree to the adoption of their child can be challenging. Fortunately, our seasoned attorneys can help.
Adoptions Without Consent
Though Oklahoma law generally requires the approval of a child's biological parent (or parents) in order to move forward with an adoption, there are some circumstances in which the court will allow an adoption to proceed without the biological parents' consent. An adoption without consent may be possible if the biological parent:
- Willfully refused or neglected to support or maintain a substantial relationship with the child for 12 consecutive months in the 14 months prior to the adoption petition
- Abandoned the child
- Has already relinquished their parental rights or had them legally terminated
- Failed to appear at the adoption hearing or waived their right to be notified of the hearing
- Was sentenced to incarceration for a period of 10 or more years and continuing contact with the parent would be harmful to the child
- The presumed father fails to prove paternity
Those are just a few of several circumstances in which an adoption without consent may be considered.
Challenging the Adoption of Your Child
When a stepparent, grandparent(s), or other party petitions the court to allow your child to be adopted without your consent, you're entitled to a trial, and the petitioner faces a heightened legal standard for their evidence. With emotions running high and your parental rights on the line, you'll need an experienced attorney with a masterful command of the relevant laws to set the story straight and protect your rights. At the Law Office of Aaron D. Bundy, PLC, our apt attorneys can do just that.
Criminal Defense and Juvenile Deprived Proceedings
If you've been accused of child abuse or neglect and are being investigated by law enforcement or the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), you are the subject of a criminal investigation. You don't just run the risk of losing your parental rights—you may also face significant criminal charges that, upon conviction, could carry devastating consequences. Don't risk the loss of your children or your freedom by failing to appreciate the gravity of the situation. You need an accomplished trial attorney who knows the laws related to juvenile deprived proceedings inside and out, and can offer a vigorous defense on your behalf.
Find Out How We Can Help
Interested in learning more about how we can help you resolve your parental rights-related legal issues? Contact us today to schedule a private consultation.