On March 19, 2009, THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA issued its ruling and decision in two very important cases that will give many children currently in probate guardianships the opportunity to secure permanent adoptive placement.
In 2003 the California Legislature enacted Probate Code section 1516.5, making it easier for children in probate guardianships to be adopted by their guardians. The California Supreme Court upheld the Constitutionality of Probate Code Section 1516.5. After about 6 years of uncertainty, the California Supreme Court has ruled that California Probate Code section 1516.5 does in fact pass constitutional muster.
California Probate Code Section 1516.5 authorizes the termination of parental rights when the guardianship has continued in existence for at least two years, and the court finds that adoption by the guardian would be in the child's best interest.
Before the enactment of California Probate Code Section 1516.5, if a child in a guardianship desired the permanence of adoption, the person petitioning to terminate parental rights would by required to allege and prove that the biological parents were unfit. Under California Probate Code section 1516.5, parental rights may be terminated based on the child's best interest after two years of probate guardianship, when a guardian seeks to adopt the child.
California Probate Code Section 1516.5 authorizes the termination of parental rights when the guardianship has continued for at least two years, and the court finds that adoption by the guardian would be in the child's best interest. The California Supreme Court has held that Probate Code Section 1516.5 is Constitutional.
Guardians can now petition the California Court to terminate parental rights based only on sufficient evidence that the guardianship has continued for at least two years and the trial court finds that adoption by the guardian would be in the child's best interest.
This ruling is welcome news for all children in guardianships in California because it will promote the stability of their placements by simplifying, expediting and reducing the burden and cost of the process of terminating parental rights to allow loving, long term guardians to adopt children already in their care.
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