Alabama Adoption Law Summary

Adoption Law Summary

 

A Summary of Adoption Law

 

Consent: If the child is not yet born the birth mother must go before the judge to give her consent. All other pre-birth consents can be submitted before a Notary Public. The net effect of this means the birth father does not have to go before the judge to give his consent to the adoption. He can also deny that he is the father yet the same time give his consent to the adoption. This is called a denial and consent. Here he is saying, I’m not the father but, I will consent to the adoption anyway. It can be an easy way to deal with a reluctant father. Post birth consent must be in writing and signed and notarized.

 

Fees and Cost:. All fees and expenses must be approved by the court prior to payment or be placed in escrow. The court shall approve all reasonable fees and expenses unless they are determined to be unreasonable based upon specific findings of fact. A birth parent must sign an affidavit that he or she has received NO money or other thing of value for giving up a child for adoption.

 

Withdrawal of Consent:. Withdrawal of consent follows a somewhat stepped procedure, meaning that the further from the birth of the child the withdrawal is received by the court the harder it is to overturn the adoption process.

 

First Step:. The consent to adoption can be withdrawn within five days of signing or of the birth which ever comes last. Withdrawal must either be delivered to the court or postmarked within the five day period.

 

Second Step:. The consent may be withdrawn within 14 days after signing or the birth of the child which ever comes last and if the court finds the withdrawal is reasonable under the circumstances and it is in the child’s best interest.

 

Third Step:. The consent may be withdrawn at any time until the final decree upon a showing that it was obtained through fraud, duress, mistake or undue influence.

Fourth Step:. After one year from the date of the final decree, a consent or relinquishment may not be challenged on any ground except when the adoptee was kidnapped.

 

Adoption Procedure and Timeline

 

The petition for adoption should be filed within 30 days after the child is placed. It should be signed and verified by each adoptive parent. After placement with the adoptive parents and filing the court enters an interlocutory order giving the adoptive parents custody. Custody includes the right and obligation to provide care, maintenance, support and medical treatment.

 

The hearing must occur within 90 days of filing if a preplacement investigation has occurred, if not, then within 120 days.

 

Final Decree

 

A final decree after it is entered, cannot be collaterally attacked, except in the case of fraud or kidnapping after entry of the final decree and all possible appeals.

How to Adopt

How to Adopt

 

Open Adoption Versus Closed Adoption

 

I am a birth father and an adoptive father. Perhaps this gives me a unique position on how adoptions work. In my personal and professional life I have been on just about every side of an adoption. As a birth parent I know the joys and tribulations of raising a child from the natural process. I also know the anxiety which comes from an adoption. I personally participated in failed adoptions as an adoptive parent and also participated in the run-up to the adoption process by participating in medical treatments to conceive. Everything was difficult and painful. So, believe me, I know what being in a position of wanting to be a parent and being unable to fulfill that role can mean to finding a sense of completion.

 

As a birth father I know what it means to have the joy of being a parent and being there when your child is born. For that reason I know what special people birth parents are and understand what the difficult decision means to them.

 

Any adoption can be made an open adoption. An open adoption is one where the birth parents have some knowledge of where the the child has been placed. Generally an adoption is a closed affair – meaning that birth parents have no knowledge of where the child has been placed. It is up to the birth parents to require that an adoption is an open adoption. A closed adoption means that the birth parents do not know where the child will be placed.

 

When a couple seeking a child goes to an adoption agency they usually pay a fe to place their name on an adoption list for the purposes of locating a child.These adoptions are usually closed adoptions This means that strict rules of confidentiality are followed. All statutory rules that relate to the typical adoption follow this model. Everything is handled confidentially and neither the birth parents nor the adoptive parents know of each other’s location, existence or particulars. In my experience birth parents typically want to know where their child is going.

 

Let’s face it, adoption is a confusing and difficult process and contains many pitfalls along the way. Ultimately, it is my belief that the law has a balanced approach to forming a family in this rather unique way. It balances the interests of the birth parents for support and the desire of the adoptive parents to provide support. It also protects the birth mother by giving her the ability to renounce or consent in the legal ways provided under the law. None of the legal protections are done away with in an open adoption. The net effect is that the law protects all parties to the adoption process. None of these protections are compromised by the open adoption process. The real benefit is that all parties to an adoption have some sense of compassion and humanness toward each other for the best interest of the child. It is a beautiful thing to experience adults functioning in this way. It does make the process easier and in some sense more natural.

 

Many people initially are apprehensive of the prospect of an open adoption, but what does an open adoption mean?

 

In my experience the open adoption meets the expectations of the birth mother in a way that closed adoptions do not. Meeting these expectations may go a long way in helping the birth mother make the decision to go forward with an adoption. In an open adoption the birth mother may place the child where she wants and with whom. The court will still direct a home study and the parties can exchange whatever information they find necessary to be comfortable with the process. The court will still direct and control the adoption according to the adoption statutes.

 

How does it work?

 

When a birth mother contacts me regarding an adoption I make an attempt to find suitable adoptive parents. I normally keep the list in my office of couples who want to adopt. I do not charge a fee for keeping those names on file. Some lawyers do. The more people that are interested in adopting a child the easier it is for the birth mother to make a decision. In an open adoption the birth mother has the opportunity to select the adoptive parents from those that may have provided me with their names and other information. I believe that the ultimate choice for placement should be the birth mother’s and that she should be able to know where her child or children ar going to be.

 

 

I have had several open adoptions take place where the adoptive mother is actually in the birth room with the birth mother. In those instances the birth mother wanted the adoptive mother to bond with the child at the earliest possible moment. Meanwhile the adoptive father was in the waiting room with the birth father. Again this appears to be a very natural way for adults to deal with a difficult process. This is probably the biggest gain that comes from an open adoption. It is the sense that everyone is functioning for the best interest of the child. It also increases the prospect that adoption will be completed.

But make no mistake about an open adoption. Adoptive parents want a child to be part of their family. They do not wish to have the birth parents engage in raising the child they seek to adopt. How open the adoption process is up to the adults involved. I make it explicitly clear in the process of an open adoption. That being said, birth parents usually desire to receive occasional photos of the child but they do not engage in ongoing correspondence or continue contact with the adoptive parents after the adoption process is complete. But having a child and providing those pictures can be a small trade-off for actually having the child as your own. In effect, being adopted will only prove you can buy what a nickel buys, that is if you have a nickel. In other words, being adopted does not mean you have to feel adopted or less loved. For my part, there is no difference for the love of a child in the adoptive parents heart or that of a natural parent. I am both. You still feel you love your child no matter what side of the adoption process you are on.

Birth parents love their children enough to sacrifice their heart and themselves for that love. Adoptive parents love their children enough to sacrifice their heart and themselves for that love. That is why I do what I do. It is one of the most meaningful things that I do as a lawyer.

 

So what kind of support can the adoptive parents be called upon to provide? The adoptive parents can provide maintenance and support to the birth mother in any amount that the court approves. But the limits of the support must be approved by the court. These payments must be reasonable in their nature. The court will review the payments prior to anyone making them. It will be reduced to writing and must be reasonably related to the care and welfare of the birth mother. It can include rent, food, and education. I can discuss the safeguards that the law provides.

 

The point is no one can change the law. The court is at the crossroads of adoption. It remains there to safeguard the rights of all.

 

If you believe you would consider an open adoption either as a birth mother or as an adoptive couple do not hesitate to contact me.

Jury Selection

Criminal Law – Jury Selection

 

“Trying a case is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.” – Henry Lagman

 

In every case the parties to a trial of the case have the right to select a fair and impartial group of citizens dear the controversy brought to court. This occurs in civil cases and criminal cases. The seriousness of being involved in an important matter is not mean that you or your attorney should not understand the process. I believe that jury selection is a tool that is overlooked and sometimes misunderstood. Likewise there are many approaches to jury selection in the conventional trial in criminal court each side is entitled to an even number of jury strikes or excuses. The number of strikes or excuses is based on how many much people must be eliminated to finally have 12 people who are willing to serve on a jury. The defendant therefore is entitled to the same number of strikes is the prosecution. But what does that gets you? Do you and your lawyer understand the biased and prejudices of those who are sworn to hear the case fairly? Let’s face it, we all have prejudices but what about the ones you don’t know about?

 

What do you make of an attorney that can excuse 56 of 58 jurors on a jury panel the calls of “prejudice” with one question?

 

In Alabama courtroom in a criminal trial I succeeded in eliminating 56 and 58 jurors. This was done in a packed courtroom with the jury box of attorneys who are watching the jury selection as they waited on the judge to take up their separate motions. They were mostly asleep as jury selection for an attorney can be almost routine. The judge thought jury selection would take place as it always did he could swear them in and dismissed them for lunch. As the judge presided in the Lars watch the proceedings with halfhearted interest I had my turn at the jury. The DA had asked five or six questions and waved the proceedings over. I asked one question, identified the entire panel is being prejudiced and then made a motion to strike the ENTIRE panel except for two jurors. The judge was stunned! Yet, he was compelled to agree with me. He stated “Esther Lagman we can try case with only two jurors!” Nevertheless, Mr. Lagman insisted that the jury be dismissed. On the record, and forced to agree the judge ordered the panel to go home.

 

The next month I was required to strike another jury in the same case before the same judge. This time out 36 jurors after a day of examination I excuse nine for prejudice. This left only 27 jurors to arrive at a jury of 12 I’ve been used by next regular excuses to arrive at a jury of 12. I had even the score so much that in the middle of the trial after I had made a motion to suppress evidence Dist. Atty. leaned over to me at a break and said, if your client will pay the court costs we will dismiss the case.” And so it was dismissed a victory for the defendant!

 

The importance of jury selection cannot be overrated. The defendant is not have to accept the jury which the state gives him and is drawn at random. You should give this equal fault when you seek to be excused from jury duty the next time you’re called it is the duty of every citizen to step forward one called if you don’t step forward, then who will step forward for you when you are before the judge and your future hangs in the balance?

If a lawyer thinking about hiring does not have trial experience can you really expect a good outcome? In selecting your jury to entrust your case does that jury have the ability to do that? Moreover that he had the courage and tenacious is to challenge the judge and the “excepted thinking” of how to try the case?

 

Only you can make those determinations – – – –

 

Not every case should be tried, but as I like to say, “trying a case is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.” The reason that I like to say it, is that for me it is true.

Criminal Law – Drug Possession

Criminal Law – Drug Possession

 

Possession of controlled substance is a serious offense in Alabama. Jail time can be a real possibility. Further it can result in the suspension of your driver’s license, and a conviction which will follow you the rest of your life. It will often disqualify you from the employment you want. The resulting consequences far beyond going to jail or paying a fine.

 

Often a conviction will turn on identification. Drug arrest maternal confidential informant it may be protected by the police. There are questions which must be raised by your attorney. Does the confidential informant have a record? Is he reliable? These are important questions which need to be answered before the state can impose guilt.

 

Another area is the chain of custody of the evidence. Recently in another state there was a wholesale dismissal of criminal cases because the crime lab was not confident in their test results were bad. Your attorney is the one who should attack the evidence.

Another favorite tactic of the police is to arrest everyone present in a drug crime. This means everyone in the car, room or house. The police like to arrest everyone and sorted out later. But does this mean the you are guilty of possession just because you’re in the same car what if you don’t know if someone else’s “holding”. You or your loved ones may be guilty of having a poor choice of friends, but does that mean that they should be convicted of a drug crime, be given a criminal record and barred from future possible employment?

If you’re on probation for other crimes a second arrest and conviction can loom even larger. You don’t have to be alone! A conviction for the second offense will cause a revocation of probation and the defendant will “have to take” the first sentence. This means that the sentences can be run consecutive or “one after the other.” The state in effects stacks the sentences.

 

Drug court is also a consideration. Don’t get me wrong, drug court can be a solution for the disposition of a charge and can be a valid recommendation. But drug court is not “a picnic” and should not be entered into without good legal advice and investigation of every possible resolution including a trial on the merits of the case. (It is also very expensive.) Before you go there you need to have your case evaluated.

 

Many people believe that they can negotiate this difficult area the law without an attorney. They believe that they will not pay the full consequences of possession. Before you make an appearance in any court make sure that you have talked with an attorney and that he has the skill and experience in handling these types of cases. Don’t count on a court appointed attorney or public defender who is usually overworked and handles or his caseload with less than special attention. You can expect more from a private attorney he selects his cases and has more time for the “details.” I can think of no other place that this is really “you get what you pay for.”

 

Be aware of the attorney that is cheaper than all others. If he is cheaper than all others, is he really going to do the work? He may be cheaper only because he is not going to do the work. Regretfully, there are attorneys out there who will only put their name on a case and not really do work. Watch out for those guys.

 

Going Out Of State

 

I’ve handle drug cases in Florida, Georgia and Texas the signs a regular practice of those kinds of cases in Alabama. After 35 years of practice, experience knows no boundaries. If you have a case out of state asked me how that is done. Perhaps an out-of-state attorney may be more effective than the average local counsel that is not to say there aren’t good local attorneys everywhere. The people have sought me out specifically to ask me to defend drug cases out-of-state.

 

Would you hire an attorney to represent your son out of state for one day? I was flown by my clients father to Texas to represent the son in a drug case. I arrived, disposed of the case in two hours and was back on the plane in time for supper and to sleep in my own bed. This was an extraordinary case but it underlines the conference my clients place in me.

 

Call me to discuss your special circumstances.

 

This is the “skinny” on drug possession under Alabama law:

 

Code of Alabama, 1975 section 20 – 2 – 1 through 20 – 2 – 93

Prohibited Acts As a Class a Felony

 

Except as authorized by chapter 2 title 20 of the Alabama code a person who possesses, sales, spices, gives away, obtains or attempts to obtain by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or subterfuge or by the forgery or alteration of prescription or written order or by the concealment of material fact or uses a false name or gives a false address controlled substances as enumerated in schedules I, II, III, IV, V, is guilty of a felony.

Upon conviction a person may be imprisoned for not less than two nor more than 15 years and in addition may be fined not more than $25,000 provided that any person who possesses marijuana for his personal use only is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction for the offense shall be imprisoned in the county jail for not more than one year, and in addition shall be fined not more than $1000 for the first offense. In addition any person who violates this section with respect to a counterfeit substance enumerated in schedules 135 is guilty of a felony and upon conviction for the first offense may be imprisoned for not less than two nor more than 15 years and may be fined not more than $25,000.

 

Under the Code of Alabama 20 – 2 – 71 of the Alabama Code…

Prohibited Acts As a Class B Felony

 

“It is unlawful for any person:

“(1) who is subject to section 20 – 2 – 50 of The Alabama Code to distribute or dispense a controlled substance in violation of section 20 – 2 – 58.

(2) who is a registrant to manufacture a controlled substance not authorized by his registration or to distribute or dispense a controlled substance not authorized by his registration to another registrant or other authorized person;

(3) to refuse or fail to make, keeper furnish any record, notification, order form, statement, invoice or other information required under this chapter; provided, however, that upon the first conviction of a violation under this provision said violator shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be assessed a penalty of $1000. Subsequent conviction shall subject the violator to all of the provisions set forth under the classification below;

(4) to refuse entry into any premises for inspection authorized by this chapter; or

(5) knowingly to keep or maintain any store, shop, warehouse, dwelling, billing, vehicle, boat, aircraft or other structure replace which is resorted to by persons using controlled substances in violation of this chapter for purposes of using substances or which is used for keeping reselling them in violation of section 20 – 2 – 1 through 20 – 2 – 93 of the Alabama Code.

 

Upon conviction such person may be imprisoned for not less than two and more than 15 years and in addition may be fined not more than $25,000.

 

Under section 20 – 2 – 72 of the Alabama code.

Prohibited Acts As a Class C Felony

 

Is unlawful for any person:

(1) to distribute as a registrant a controlled substance classified in schedules one or two, except pursuant to an order form as required by section 20 – 2 – 57.;

(2) to use in the course of the manufacture distribution of a controlled substance and registration number which is fictitious, revoked, suspended or issued to another person;

(3) to acquire or obtain possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, the substance or for subterfuge;

(4) to furnish false or fraudulent material information in order to mid any material information from any application, report or other document required to be kept or filed under this chapter or in any record or per to be kept by this chapter; or

(5) to make, distribute or possess any punch, die, Blake, stone or other thing designed to print, imprint or reproduce the trademark, trade name or other identifying mark, imprint or device of another or any likeness of any of the foregoing upon any drug or container are labeling thereof so as to render the drug a counterfeit substance.

Upon conviction such person may be imprisoned for not less than two or more than 15 years and in addition may be fined not more than $25,000.

 

This is the law but you need to know you’re not alone!

Credit Repair Letter

How to Repair your Credit

 

 

How to Repair Instructions

 

Bankruptcy

 

Date :

Your Name

Your Address

City, State Zip

Credit Bureau

Credit Bureau Address

City, State Zip

Re: Deletion of Inaccurate Credit Information upon the credit report of __________________________; SS# ______________________

Dear Sir/Madam:

This letter is a formal letter of complaint that you have maintained inaccurated information upon my credit report and are reporting this inaccurate credit information upon credit reports issued by your firm.

This is disappointing that you have included the information listed below upon my credit profile. This will have a damaging effort upon my credit standing. The credit reporting laws require that bureaus report only accurate credit information. The inclusion of inaccurate information is a mistake on the reporting creditor’s part. Because of these mistakes on my credit report, I have been denied credit within the last 60 days. This was entirely due to the mistakes made upon your part. It has effected my life.

I was denied credit by (insert creditor’s name). Enclosed is the letter of credit denial I received. Please remove the inaccurated credit information within 30 days or I shall consider filing a complaint with the appropriate legal authorities. I have also included the following pieces for personal information for proof my credit identity.

I expect that you will verify and delete the inaccurate information within that time.

The offending information needs to be verified and deleted from the report as soon as possible:

(Offending Creditor Company, Account number: 356-345KT896

I look forward to receiving within 30 days of the date of this letter, written proof of the deletion of that inaccurate information returned to me at the above address.

Sincerely,

__________________________________

Your Name

SSN# 123-45-6789

Attachments included:

Copy of Driver’s License

Utility Bill Showing Your Current Address

Copy of Your Social Security Card

Copy of Denial of Credit letter recieved.in the last 60 day

Credit Score Repair Instructions

Credit Score Repair Instructions.

 

This web page will give you an overview of how to repair your credit score. It is a free service.

To get your truly free Credit Report click here. This report does NOT give you your CREDIT SCORE.

 

After you secure your credit report note the mistakes upon your credit report. You will then need to contact each of the credit reporting agencys. You can request it by phone or in writing. I prefer the written request, as it provides more complete proof of your request. I have proved the most recent information available to request it by phone nevertheless.

 

Here are their addresses:

Experian

P.O. Box 2002

Allen, TX 75013

 

Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc.

P.O. Box 740256

Atlanta, GA 30374

 

TransUnion, LLC

P.O. Box 2000

Chester, PA 19022

 

To Order Your Credit Report by Phone

This is not the way I would recommend, as phone calls are easily avoided, not followed up or otherwise “lost” by not being dealt with. I prefer a written request as it requires more document handling than a mere phone call in most organizations. Nevertheless here are the phone numbers.

 

Equifax 1-800-685-1111 – you can get a free report if you have been denied credit in the last 60 days. Make sure that you order only the credit report. Mail within 48 hours.

 

TransUnion 1-800-888-4213 – receive within 6 to 8 business days.

 

Experian 1-888-397-3742 – receive within 8 to 10 business days.

 

I would suggest writing writing a form letter and send it to each of the credit agencys. You and find a sample letter form here.

 

Free Credit Reports

 

You can get a free report once a year from www.annualcreditreport.com. This report does NOT give you your CREDIT SCORE.

 

If you are turned down for credit, employment, or insurance within the last 60 days. Take the written proof of your turn down and mail it to the credit bureaus, requesting your free report.

 

If you were charged higher rates and fees or deposits based on a credit report issued by a credit bureau, you have the right to get a free copy from that bureau.

 

If you certify in writing that either you are unemployed and plan to seek employment in the next 60 days.

 

If you are on welfare.

 

If you write to say you were a victim of fraud.

1. After you have secured your credit report note the errors.

2. Prepare the form letter to noting each of the errors you have found. Be sure to state the errors in detail. (The creditor, account number, the amount) This is your “contest” letter. Be sure and set out the negative errors completely.

3. Include the following information as proof of identity; You should provide:

Your Full Legal Name

Your Date of Birth

Social Security Number

Current Mailing Address

Your Previous Address, if less than five years

Copy of Your Driver’s License with Current Address

Copy of Your Social Security Card

Denial of Credit letter if received in last 60 days.

4. Make copies of each of the “contest” letters for your file.

5. Send the original “contest” letters by certified U.S. Mail to each of the credit reporting agencys listed above. You will need to send the “contest” letters to the credit agencys by certified mail in order to offer proof to either the FTC at this address;

 

Consumer Response Center

Room 130-A

Federal Trade Commission

600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.,

Washington, D.C. 20580

or the Alabama Attorney General’s Office at this address:

Consumer Protection Section Contact Information

 

Office of Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange

Consumer Protection Section

Hotline: 1-800-392-5658

Phone: 334-242-7335

Fax: 334-242-2433

Mailing Address:

Post Office Box 300152

Montgomery, Alabama 36130

Physical Address:

501 Washington Avenue

Montgomery, Alabama 36104

 

6. Mark the day you have notified each of the credit agencys on your calendar. They are required to provide you with evidence with 30 days of your request that they have corrected the errors.

7. On the day of expiration, if the credit agency has not sent you proof of that the change has been made, send copies of the “contest” letter you sent to the FTC or the Alabama State Attorney General’s Office.

 

REMEMBER YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!