Florida Senate Bill 550, which failed in the state House of Representatives during the 1998 session, was intended to protect the rights of unwed fathers who wish to contest the adoption of their child. The proposal would require that courts dismiss termination of parental rights pending adoption hearings for unwed fathers who do not consent to adoption, unless there is evidence of abandonment. The child would then be placed with the father instead of the prospective adoptive parents. This article critically reviews the provisions of Senate Bill 550 and examines its implications for children at risk, child protection, and equal protection. It proposes that a brief case plan method be used to ensure the safety of children in contested adoption proceedings. An outline for the proposed case plan legislation is presented, detailing the components of relinquishment of parental rights and adoption proceedings that would establish a case plan with time limits for the child. Evidentiary hearings are required to resolve disputed issues during the period of the case plan. The case plan would mandate the provision of support to the potential parent, as well as an assessment of ability to care for the child.
Using a "Brief Case Plan" Method to Reconcile Kinship Rights and the Best Interests of the Child When an Unwed Father Contests a Mother's Decision to Place an Infant for Adoption.
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