Monday, April 2, 2012

Boise Divorce Attorneys - Idaho Criminal Lawyers - Custody and Safe Haven

Idaho Safe Haven Law
Some years ago Safe Haven Laws did not exist.  If you left your child, at say a church or a hospital, you could be prosecuted for the criminal charge of abandonment.  If you had a baby you didn't want you would have to go through an adoption and termination process to relinquish your parental rights.  If you did anything else, such as drop the baby off, neglect the baby or otherwise fail to act appropriately as a parent, you could face criminal charges and require the services of a criminal lawyer.  In addition you would have to wait for the adoptive parents' Family Law Attorney to file the appropriate paperwork on behalf of the adoptive parents, get the termination of parental rights paperwork and hearing and have the adoption completed before your parental responsibility was relieved.  This process, because it involves home studies and other evaluations, can take a long time.  Your desire to care for the child and your ability to do so may very well be compromised in that length of time especially if you didn't wan the child in the first place.

The Idaho Safe Haven Act allowed parents to lawfully "abandon" their child.  The act requires that the child be left at a safe haven and that it be done within the first 30 days of the child's life.  The child has to be delivered by the custodial parent and they must express the intent not to want the child back.  The safe haven will take temporary physical custody of the child and the parent won't be subject to the criminal charge of abandonment.  

Once a child has been abandoned to a safe haven, the facility must notify the police who will then take protective custody of the child and deliver him or her to the care and control  of the Department of Health and Welfare.  A shelter care hearing is held to place physical custody with the Health and Welfare.   Health and Welfare is required to to place the child with potential adoptive parents as soon as possible so that the child may bond normally with parents.  During the first thirty days, the Department does investigative work to ensure the child was not wrongfully abandoned or kidnapped and abandoned.

Termination of Parental Rights
Once the Department of Health and Welfare has physical custody of the child  and they have gone through the investigative process in the first thirty days, the department will move to the stage of termination of parental rights.  As a Boise Divorce Attorney I have seen the following scenario.  A young mother gives birth to a child and doesn't want it.  She doesn't want to deal with having a Family Law Attorney set up a an adoption or a Custody Lawyer filing for paternity tests or setting up visitation or the like.  Usually, out of fear, she abandons the child.  As a custody lawyer I hear from the the father or the father's parents who want to keep the child and not have their son's parental rights terminated.  Is there any thing they can do?  The Idaho Code provides for a registration of parental rights.  The parent must go to the Department of Vital Statistics and fill out the appropriate paperwork.  Before the Department of Health and Welfare proceeds with the termination, they will check the registry to see if anyone is claiming parental rights and who therefore has an interest in the termination.  It is critical that a claim of parental rights be done immediately because if it is not done in a timely fashion both parent's parental rights will be terminated.

When a child is abandoned to a safe haven, the Idaho Code protects the employees of the facility where the child is left from civil and criminal liability.  It also protects the police officer who arrives to place the child in protective custody.  What this means is if something happens to the child, no criminal charges or civil suit may be made against the employee or the police.

Once the child has been placed with prospective adoptive parents, the parental rights have been terminated and all the requirements for the adoption process have been complied with, the Department of Health and Welfare will terminate its custodial rights and the child will be allowed to be adopted.  The Department has its own attorneys dealing with the custody and termination of their rights and the adoptive parents will have their lawyers who will actually file the adoption paperwork.  At this point, the real parents have no further interest or say in the child, nor do they have a right to bring in their own attorney to have a say in the matter.

If you have questions regarding adoption, termination, custody, parental rights, divorce or any other family law issue and would like to speak to a Boise Family Law Attorney, give us a call
(208) 472-2383 and see what we can do for you.  


1 comment:

  1. Really Good Post!!

    Family disputes such as divorce or separation can be an emotional and chaotic time of your life - especially when there are children involved. Family Lawyers WA