SECOND REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE BILL NO. 1317
97TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES ELLINGER (Sponsor), CURTIS, KIRKTON, MCCANN BEATTY, ROORDA, NICHOLS, SCHUPP AND GARDNER (Co-sponsors).
4127L.01I D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk
To repeal sections 192.016 and 453.030, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof two new sections relating to establishment of paternity.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Sections 192.016 and 453.030, RSMo, are repealed and two new sections enacted in lieu thereof, to be known as sections 192.016 and 453.030, to read as follows:
192.016. 1. The department of health and senior services shall establish a putative father registry which shall record the names and addresses of:
(1) Any person adjudicated by a court of this state to be the father of a child born out of wedlock;
(2) Any person who has filed with the registry before or after the birth of a child out of wedlock, a notice of intent to claim paternity of the child;
(3) Any person adjudicated by a court of another state or territory of the United States to be the father of an out-of-wedlock child, where a certified copy of the court order has been filed with the registry by such person or any other person.
2. A person filing a notice of intent to claim paternity of a child or an acknowledgment of paternity shall file the acknowledgment affidavit form developed by the state registrar which shall include the minimum requirements prescribed by the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 652(a)(7).
3. A person filing a notice of intent to claim paternity of a child shall notify the registry of any change of address.
4. A person who has filed a notice of intent to claim paternity may at any time revoke a notice of intent to claim paternity previously filed therewith and, upon receipt of such notification by the registry, the revoked notice of intent to claim paternity shall be deemed a nullity nunc pro tunc.
5. An unrevoked notice of intent to claim paternity of a child may be introduced in evidence by any party, other than the person who filed such notice, in any proceeding in which such fact may be relevant.
6. Lack of knowledge of the pregnancy does not excuse failure to timely file pursuant to paragraph (b) or (c) of subdivision (2) of subsection 3 of section 453.030.
7. Failure to timely file pursuant to paragraph (b) or (c) of subsection 3 of section 453.030 shall waive a man's right to withhold consent to an adoption proceeding unless:
(1) The person was led to believe through the mother's misrepresentation or fraud that:
(a) The mother was not pregnant when in fact she was; or
(b) The pregnancy was terminated when in fact the baby was born; or
(c) After the birth, the child died when in fact the child is alive; and
(2) The person upon the discovery of the misrepresentation or fraud satisfied the requirements of paragraph (b) or (c) of subdivision (2) of subsection 3 of section 453.030 within [fifteen] sixty days of that discovery.
8. The department shall, upon request and within two business days of such request, provide the names and addresses of persons listed with the registry to any court or authorized agency, or entity or person named in section 453.014, and such information shall not be divulged to any other person, except upon order of a court for good cause shown.
9. The department of health and senior services shall:
(1) Prepare forms for registration of paternity and an application for search of the putative father registry;
(2) Produce and distribute a pamphlet or publication informing the public about the putative father registry, including the procedures for voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, the consequences of acknowledgment and failure to acknowledge paternity pursuant to section 453.010, a copy of a statement informing the public about the putative father registry, including to whom and under what circumstances it applies, the time limits and responsibilities for filing, protection of paternal rights and associated responsibilities, and other provisions of this section, and a detachable form meeting the requirements of subsection 2 of this section addressed to the putative father registry. Such pamphlet or publication shall be made available for distribution at all offices of the department of health and senior services. The department shall also provide such pamphlets or publications to the department of social services, hospitals, libraries, medical clinics, schools, universities, and other providers of child-related services upon request;
(3) Provide information to the public at large by way of general public service announcements, or other ways to deliver information to the public about the putative father registry and its services.
10. Pursuant to subdivision (2) of subsection 9 of this section, a statement prepared by the department of health and senior services shall be contained in any pamphlet or publication informing the public about the putative father registry.
11. There is hereby created in the state treasury the "Putative Father Registry Fund", which shall consist of moneys collected under section 453.020. Upon appropriation, moneys in the fund shall be used solely for the administration of the putative father registry. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 33.080 to the contrary, moneys in the fund shall not revert to the credit of general revenue at the end of the biennium, but shall be used upon appropriations by the general assembly for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this chapter.
453.030. 1. In all cases the approval of the court of the adoption shall be required and such approval shall be given or withheld as the welfare of the person sought to be adopted may, in the opinion of the court, demand.
2. The written consent of the person to be adopted shall be required in all cases where the person sought to be adopted is fourteen years of age or older, except where the court finds that such child has not sufficient mental capacity to give the same. In a case involving a child under fourteen years of age, the guardian ad litem shall ascertain the child's wishes and feelings about his or her adoption by conducting an interview or interviews with the child, if appropriate based on the child's age and maturity level, which shall be considered by the court as a factor in determining if the adoption is in the child's best interests.
3. With the exceptions specifically enumerated in section 453.040, when the person sought to be adopted is under the age of eighteen years, the written consent of the following persons shall be required and filed in and made a part of the files and record of the proceeding:
(1) The mother of the child; and
(2) Only the man who:
(a) Is presumed to be the father pursuant to the subdivision (1), (2), or (3) of subsection 1 of section 210.822; or
(b) Has filed an action to establish his paternity in a court of competent jurisdiction no later than [fifteen] sixty days after the birth of the child and has served a copy of the petition on the mother in accordance with section 506.100; or
(c) Filed with the putative father registry pursuant to section 192.016 a notice of intent to claim paternity or an acknowledgment of paternity either prior to or within [fifteen] sixty days after the child's birth, and has filed an action to establish his paternity in a court of competent jurisdiction no later than [fifteen] sixty days after the birth of the child; or
(3) The child's current adoptive parents or other legally recognized mother and father. Upon request by the petitioner and within one business day of such request, the clerk of the local court shall verify whether such written consents have been filed with the court.
4. The written consent required in subdivisions (2) and (3) of subsection 3 of this section may be executed before or after the commencement of the adoption proceedings, and shall be executed in front of a judge or acknowledged before a notary public. If consent is executed in front of a judge, it shall be the duty of the judge to advise the consenting birth parent of the consequences of the consent. In lieu of such acknowledgment, the signature of the person giving such written consent shall be witnessed by the signatures of at least two adult persons whose signatures and addresses shall be plainly written thereon. The two adult witnesses shall not be the prospective adoptive parents or any attorney representing a party to the adoption proceeding. The notary public or witnesses shall verify the identity of the party signing the consent.
5. The written consent required in subdivision (1) of subsection 3 of this section by the birth parent shall not be executed anytime before the child is forty-eight hours old. Such written consent shall be executed in front of a judge or acknowledged before a notary public. If consent is executed in front of a judge, it shall be the duty of the judge to advise the consenting party of the consequences of the consent. In lieu of such acknowledgment, the signature of the person giving such written consent shall be witnessed by the signatures of at least two adult persons who are present at the execution whose signatures and addresses shall be plainly written thereon and who determine and certify that the consent is knowingly and freely given. The two adult witnesses shall not be the prospective adoptive parents or any attorney representing a party to the adoption proceeding. The notary public or witnesses shall verify the identity of the party signing the consent.
6. A consent is final when executed, unless the consenting party, prior to a final decree of adoption, alleges and proves by clear and convincing evidence that the consent was not freely and voluntarily given. The burden of proving the consent was not freely and voluntarily given shall rest with the consenting party. Consents in all cases shall have been executed not more than six months prior to the date the petition for adoption is filed.
7. A consent form shall be developed through rules and regulations promulgated by the department of social services. No rule or portion of a rule promulgated under the authority of this section shall become effective unless it has been promulgated pursuant to the provisions of chapter 536. If a written consent is obtained after August 28, 1997, but prior to the development of a consent form by the department and the written consent complies with the provisions of subsection 8 of this section, such written consent shall be deemed valid.
8. However, the consent form must specify that:
(1) The birth parent understands the importance of identifying all possible fathers of the child and may provide the names of all such persons; and
(2) The birth parent understands that if he denies paternity, but consents to the adoption, he waives any future interest in the child.
9. The written consent to adoption required by subsection 3 and executed through procedures set forth in subsection 5 of this section shall be valid and effective even though the parent consenting was under eighteen years of age, if such parent was represented by a guardian ad litem, at the time of the execution thereof.
10. Where the person sought to be adopted is eighteen years of age or older, his or her written consent alone to his or her adoption shall be sufficient.
11. A birth parent, including a birth parent less than eighteen years of age, shall have the right to legal representation and payment of any reasonable legal fees incurred throughout the adoption process. In addition, the court may appoint an attorney to represent a birth parent if:
(1) A birth parent requests representation;
(2) The court finds that hiring an attorney to represent such birth parent would cause a financial hardship for the birth parent; and
(3) The birth parent is not already represented by counsel.
12. Except in cases where the court determines that the adoptive parents are unable to pay reasonable attorney fees and appoints pro bono counsel for the birth parents, the court shall order the costs of the attorney fees incurred pursuant to subsection 11 of this section to be paid by the prospective adoptive parents or the child-placing agency.