CHAPTER 466

FORMERLY

HOUSE BILL NO. 1033

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTERS 9 AND 11, TITLE 13, DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO ADOPTION AND TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. Section 901, Chapter 9, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking the definition of the word "Abandoned" and inserting in lieu thereof a new definition to read as follows:

"'Abandoned' shall be interpreted as referring to any child who, for a period of six months, has not received any regular and reasonable financial help from or any substantial visits from his parent or parents or any person having parental rights or responsibility and on whose behalf no substantial contacts have been initiated by his parent or parents or any person having parental rights or responsibility during that period."

Section 2. Section 901, Chapter 9, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by adding thereto the following definition of "Natural father": "'Natural father' means the biological male parent of a child."

Section 3. Section 903, Chapter 9, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking said section in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new section to read as follows:

§903. Who may adopt

An unmarried person, or jointly a husband and wife, who are not legally separated or who are not living apart from each other, or a divorced or legally separated person, being resident in Delaware at the time of filing the petition or with whom a child has been placed for adoption under Section 904 of this title, and being over 21 years of age, may petition the Superior Court for an order authorizing the petitioner or petitioners to adopt a minor child not his, hers, or theirs. Nothing herein shall in any way affect the right of any person to adopt a person who has reached age 18 as provided in Subchapter II of this chapter.

Section 4. Section 906, Chapter 9, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking said section in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof a new section to read as follows:

§906. Contents of petition The petition shall state:

1. The name, address and marital status of the petitioner or petitioners.

2. The sex and date of birth of the child whose adoption is sought.

3. The relationship of the petitioner to the child.

4. The name of the person, persons or organization legally qualified to consent to the adoption and the basis for the existence in such person, persons, or organization of the right to so consent.

5. The date of the child's placement in the adoptive home, or in the case of a child to be adopted by a stepparent, the date of the marriage of the stepparent and the child's natural parent.

6. The name to be assumed by the child upon adoption.

0. If there has not been a prior legal termination of parental rights, the petition shall also include:

(a) In the case of a child born in wedlock, the name and residence of the parents of the child whose adoption is sought.

(b) In the case of a child born out of wedlock, the name and address of the mother, and her marital status at the time of the child's conception and birth, and, in the event she was married at the time of the child's conception or birth, the name and address of the mother's husband at those times, and a statement based upon information furnished by the mother setting forth either (A) The name and last known address of the natural father, or (B) A statement that the mother knows the name of the natural father but is unwilling to disclose the name of the natural father, or (C) A statement, confirmed by the attached affidavit of the mother, that the mother does not know the name of the natural father.

8. After execution of the petition by the petitioner or petitioners, there shall be attached so as to preserve the confidential nature of the information (provided, however, that confidentiality, is not required in the case of a petition by a stepparent or blood relative) contained therein, as required by Section 923 of this title, the following exhibits:

(a) The birth certificate of the child.

(b) The legal name of the child whose adoption is being sought.

(c) All required consents, or facts justifying the absence of consent.

Section 5. Section 907, Chapter 9, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking said section in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new section to read as follows:

§907. Consent to adoption

(a) No petition for adoption not containing a consent to the proposed adoption shall be filed. The consent shall be in writing, notarized and annexed to the petition as an exhibit. If consent is obtained or given outside this State, it must be executed in accordance with the provisions of this section and Section 908 of this title.

(b) A written consent to adoption, duly acknowledged, must be given by any child 14 years of age or over unless the Court, upon further investigation or inquiry, deems it to be in the best interest of the child that such consent be waived. Such consent, when obtained, shall be annexed to the petition as an exhibit thereto.

Section 6. Section 908, Chapter 9, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking subparagraph (2) thereof in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subparagraph (2) to read as follows:

"(2) If the parental rights of the parent or parents with respect to the child have not been legally terminated, the consent shall be given as follows:

(A) By both parents of a child conceived or born out of wedlock; provided, however, that the consent of the alleged natural father need not contain an admission that he is the father. In the event that the named natural father disclaims paternity, an affidavit signed by him to that effect shall be attached to the petition in lieu of a consent from the natural father. It is further provided that in the event of a petition containing statements described in Section 906 (7) (b) (B) or (C) of this title, after a hearing in which it is established on the record that the mother and the father of the child are not then living together as husband and wife openly and that they have not done so nor married since the birth of the child, the Court may, following consideration of the social report, dispense with the requirement of the father's consent in compliance with Section 929 of this title.

(B) By the parents of a child born in wedlock, or the survivor if one such parent is deceased. If parental rights of one parent have been terminated, the remaining parent and the person or organization, if any, to whom the terminated parental rights have been transferred, shall consent to the adoption.

(C) By the mother and the natural father, if the mother's legal husband at the time of the conception or birth of the child was not the natural father of the child. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, a notarized statement of the legal husband that he is not the father of the child shall be prima facie proof thereof. The consent of the natural father is subject to the provisos set forth in subparagraph. (A) above.

(D) By an authorized agency of any other state having the right to consent to an adoption or having accepted consent or relinguishment (for adoption or permanent planning) from the natural parent, parents or guardian in accordance with the law of that jurisdiction.

(E) By the appropriate organization, agency or court in another country which acquired the right to consent to an adoption in accordance with the laws of that country.

Section 7. Section 912, Chapter 9, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking subsection (c) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (c) to read as follows:

"(c) If the placement is made by an authorized agency, the report shall be rendered within 60 days from the filing of the petition. In all other cases the report is to be rendered within 60 days following the period of supervision."

Section 8. Section 913, Chapter 9, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking said section in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new section to read as follows:

§913. Period of supervision

(a) A decree of adoption for a child placed by an authorized agency shall be entered only after the child has resided in the adoption home continuously for at least one year under the supervision of the Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Social Services, or an authorized agency; except that, on recommendation of the Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Social Services, or an authorized agency, a decree may be issued at any time after six months supervision.

(b) A decree of adoption for a child to be adopted by a stepparent or a blood relative shall be entered only after the child has resided in the home of the petitioner for at least one year; except that, on recommendation of the Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Social Services, or an authorized agency, a decree may be issued after six months of continuous residence of the child in the petitioner's home.

Section 9. Section 921 (a), Chapter 9, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking paragraphs (3), (4), (6) and (7) of said subsection (a) and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

"(3) Name of natural father, if known.

(4) Maiden name of mother.

(6) Name of adoptive father, place and date of his birth; his occupation.

(7) Maiden name of adoptive mother, place and date of her birth; her occupation."

Section 10. Section 928, Chapter 9, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking subparagraph (b) thereof in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subparagraph (b) to read as follows:

"(b) No person or organization who is in any way connected with an adoption shall receive any remuneration in connection therewith, except for Court costs, and legal services; provided, however, that an authorized agency may charge a service fee for each adoption in an amount not exceeding the cost of services rendered, to be paid by the adopting parent or parents. The amount of any such fee shall be made a part of the report provided for in Section 912 of this title."

Section 11. Subchapter II, Chapter 9, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking the figure "21" as the same appears in the title of said subchapter and inserting in lieu thereof the figure "18".

Section 12. Section 951, Chapter 9, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking the figure "21" as the same appears in line 2 of said section and inserting in lieu thereof the figure "18".

Section 13. Chapter 9, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by adding thereto a new Section 929 to read as follows:

§929. Interpretation

The procedures in this chapter are designed to be accomplished so as to achieve without undue delay the paramount objective of the best interests of the child, and all questions of interpretation shall be resolved with the objective in mind.

Section 14. Section 1101, Chapter 11, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking the definition of the word "Abandoned" and inserting in lieu thereof a new definition to read as follows:

"'Abandoned' shall be interpreted as referring to any child who, for a period of six months, has not received any regular and reasonable financial help from his parent or parents or any person having parental rights or responsibility and on whose behalf no substantial contacts have been initiated by his parent or parents or any person having parental rights or responsibility during that period."

Section 15. Section 1101, Chapter 11, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by adding thereto the following definition of "Natural father":

"'Natural father' means the biological male parent of a child."

Section 16. Section 1103, Chapter 11, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking subparagraph (t) and (5) thereof and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

"(1) The parent or parents of any child, or the person or persons or organization holding parental rights over such child, desires to relinquish such parental rights; or

(5) Both parents of a child are deceased."

Section 17. Section 1104, Chapter 11, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking paragraphs (1), (4) and (5) thereof and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

"(1) The mother or the natural father, or both, of a child born out of wedlock;

(4) The mother or the natural father, or both, if the mother's legal husband at the time of the conception or birth of the child was not the natural father of the child. In the absence of the evidence to the contrary, a notarized statement of the legal husband that he is not the father of the child shall be prima facie proof thereof;

(5) One parent alone if the other parent is incompetent by virtue of mental illness or mental retardation, or has abandoned the child, or is not fit to continue to exercise parental rights."

Section 18. Section 1105, Chapter 11, Title 13, Delaware rode, is amended by striking subsection (a) thereof in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (a) to read as follows:

"(a) The petition for the termination of parental rights shall state the—

(1) Name and place of residence of the petitioner or petitioners;

(2) Name, sex and date of birth of the child;

(3) Relationship of the petitioner or petitioners to the child or the fact that no such relationship exists;

(4) The names and addresses of the parents of the child if born in wedlock;

(5) If the child was born out of wedlock, the name and address of the mother and her marital status at the time of the child's conception and birth, and, in the event she was married at the time of the child's conception or birth, the name and address of the mother's husband at those times, and a statement based upon information furnished by the mother setting forth either

(A) the name and last known address of the natural father, or

(B) a statement that the mother knows the name of the natural father but is unwilling to disclose the name of the natural father, or (C) a statement, confirmed by the attached affidavit of mother, that the mother does not know the name of the natural father.

(6) Name and last known address of the person or persons or organization holding parental rights and the name and address of the person or persons or organization having the care, control or custody of the child;

(7) Grounds for termination of parental rights;

(8) Name and address of the person or persons or of the authorized agency or officer thereof of the State Department of Public Welfare or officer thereof for whom or for which parental rights are requested."

Section 19. Section 1105, Chapter 11, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by adding to subsection (c) thereof the following sentence:

"In addition to other pertinent information, the social report shall, when the name and address of the natural father is not included, furnish detailed information concerning the efforts made to identify the natural father so as to enable the Court to determine what further steps, if any, should be taken consistent with Section 1113 hereof."

Section 20. Section 1106, Chapter 11, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking subsection (b) thereof in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (b) to read as follows:

"(b) The consent provided for in subsection (a) shall be required from --

(1) Both parents of a child born out of wedlock; provided, however, that the consent of the alleged natural father need not contain an admission that he is the father. In the event that the named natural father disclaims paternity, an affidavit signed by him to that effect shall be attached to the petition in lieu of a consent from the natural father. It is further provided that in the event of a petition containing statements described in Section 1105 (a) (5) (B) or (C) of this title, after a hearing in which it is established on the record that the mother and father of the child are not then living together as husband and wife openly and that they have not done so nor married since the birth of the child, the Court may, following consideration of the social report, dispense with the requirement of the father's consent in compliance with Section 1113 of this title.

(2) Both parents of a child born in wedlock except as provided in subparagraph (3) if both parents are living, or from the survivor, if one is deceased, regardless of the marital status of the parents at the time the petition is presented;

(3) The mother and the natural father, if the mother's legal husband at the time of the conception or birth of the child was not the natural father of the child. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, a notarized statement of the legal husband that he is not the father of the child shall be prima facie proof thereof. If such a notarized statement of the legal husband cannot be obtained, a notice of hearing shall be sent to him as provided in Section 1107 of this title. The consent of the natural father is subject to the provisos set forth in subparagraph (1) above;

(4) Any other person or persons or organization holding parental rights.

(5) One parent alone if the other parent is incompetent by reason of mental illness or mental retardation, or has abandoned the child, or is not fitted to continue to exercise the parental rights."

Section 21. Section 1106, Chapter 11, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by adding a new subsection (f) thereto to read as follows:

"(f) Consent by the natural father may be executed either before or after the actual birth of the child involved."

Section 22. Section 1107, Chapter 11, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by striking subsection (d) thereof in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (d) to read as follows:

"(d) When a petition for termination of parental rights is filed, and an authorized agency or the Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Social Services, is not a party to the proceedings, the Court shall, before any hearing, order a social study and report on the petition by an authorized agency or by the Department of Health and Social Services, to be filed within four months, subject to such additional time as the Court shall determine is reasonably required. The Court shall set a date for hearing to take place after the report is to be filed and notice shall be accomplished as outlined above. Any social report filed with the petition, or subsequently, as described above in this subparagraph, shall include the information specifically referred to in Section 1105 (c) of this title, where indicated."

Section 23. Chapter 11, Title 13, Delaware Code, is amended by adding thereto a new section to read as follows:

§1113. Interpretation

The procedures in this chapter are designed to be accomplished so as to achieve without undue delay the paramount objective of the best interest of the child, and all questions of interpretation shall be resolved with that objective in mind.

Approved July 17, 1974.