Adoption Rights: Parental Consent and Ability to Pay

An article featured in a recent publication of The Indiana Lawyer (available here: discussed a Court of Appeals ruling regarding a natural parent’s ability to pay support and the effect the ability to pay can have on that parent’s consent and adoption of the child by a stepparent.

Indiana law allows for stepparent adoption without parental consent when child support is one year in arrears. Indiana Code § 31-19-9-8(2)(B). However, the Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling of the Vanderburgh Superior Court denying a stepparent adoption, even though the natural father had not paid support in 13 months. The Court asserted that the “totality of the circumstances” is the appropriate standard when determining a natural parent’s ability to pay. This means that even though the stepparent was statutorily compliant in his petition, the Court considered the natural father’s extenuating circumstances not just his proof of income to determine if his consent was required.

Author: Samantha Banks

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