H. B. 3217
(By Delegates C. Miller and Sobonya)
[Introduced January 11, 2012; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §48-22-704 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to adoptions; and providing that an order of adoption may be dissented to at any time after entry by a person who was a minor at the time of the adoption.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §48-22-704 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 22. ADOPTION.
§48-22-704. Finality of order; challenges to order of adoption.
(a) An order or decree of adoption is a final order for purposes of appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeals on the date when the order is entered. An order or decree of adoption for any other purpose is final upon the expiration of the time for filing an appeal when no appeal is filed or when an appeal is not timely filed, or upon the date of the denial or dismissal of any appeal which has been timely filed.
(b) An order or decree of adoption may not be vacated, on any ground, if a petition to vacate the judgment is filed more than six months after the date the order is final.
(c) If a challenge is brought within the six-month period by an individual who did not receive proper notice of the proceedings pursuant to the provisions of this article, the court shall deny the challenge, unless the individual proves by clear and convincing evidence that the decree or order is not in the best interest of the child.
(d) A decree or order entered under this article may not be vacated or set aside upon application of a person who waived notice, or who was properly served with notice pursuant to this article and failed to respond or appear, file an answer or file a claim of paternity within the time allowed.
(e) A decree or order entered under this article may not be vacated or set aside upon application of a person alleging there is a failure to comply with an agreement for visitation or communication with the adopted child: Provided, That the court may hear a petition to enforce the agreement, in which case the court shall determine whether enforcement of the agreement would serve the best interests of the child. The court may, in its sole discretion, consider the position of a child of the age and maturity to express such position to the court.
(f) The Supreme Court of Appeals shall consider and issue rulings on any petition for appeal from an order or decree of adoption and petitions for appeal from any other order entered pursuant to the provisions of this article as expeditiously as possible. The circuit court shall consider and issue rulings on any petition filed to vacate an order or decree of adoption and any other pleadings or petitions filed in connection with any adoption proceeding as expeditiously as possible.
(g) When any minor has been adopted, he or she may, within one year at any time after becoming of age, sign, seal and acknowledge before proper authority, in the county in which the order of adoption was made, a dissent from such adoption, and file such instrument of dissent in the office of the clerk of the circuit court which granted said adoption. The clerk of the county commission of such county and the circuit clerk shall record and index the same. The adoption shall be vacated upon the filing of such instrument of dissent.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to allow an adoptee who was a minor at the time of entry of an order of adoption to dissent at any time after the adoption. Current law permits a dissent within one year after that person “becomes of age”.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.