The vast majority of law suits are settled before they get to a final hearing. Adoption is no exception to this. Like with other family law cases, coming to an agreement provides the parties with a degree of control over the process, and allows them to tailor make solutions that are suitable for their situation and their family. The first step in the adoption process is terminating parental rights. Minnesota statute 260C.31 provides that the parties may come to an agreement to terminate parental rights. When the parents are discussing coming to an agreement concerning an uncontested adoption, child support could figure into that discussion.
When parents divorce or separate, the court can and almost always does make an order for child support. The non-custodial parent may be more motivated to agree to termination of parental rights and an adoption if he or she understands that any future child support obligations would be extinguished after the termination of parental rights is completed. If the parent paying support is highly financially motivated, this can be a useful negotiating tool for the party seeking to adopt. Note that the fact that post-adoption child support is a main reason that courts are reluctant to complete a voluntary termination of parental rights if there is not someone ready to step in and adopt the child. The court does not want to cut off a potential source of support for the child without assurance that there will be someone else taking over that supportive role.
Parents also need to understand that although termination of parental rights and the subsequent adoption will cut off the paying parent’s future child support obligation, this will not impact any arrearages. If the paying parent is behind in support payments at the time the uncontested termination and adoption is completed, the paying parent will still owe the past due payments. In other words, the new order terminating parental rights does not have any impact on the previous order setting child support or a previous order rendering a judgment for arrearages. Even though the paying parent will be stripped of parental rights, the court will retain the ability to enforce a prior arrearage order.
There are many important considerations if you are considering an uncontested adoption. Call us today at 651-413-9568 and talk with us about your questions.