BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       



           ------------------------------------------------------------ 
          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                  AB 2020|
          |Office of Senate Floor Analyses   |                         |
          |1020 N Street, Suite 524          |                         |
          |(916) 651-1520         Fax: (916) |                         |
          |327-4478                          |                         |
           ------------------------------------------------------------ 
           
                                         
                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  AB 2020
          Author:   Fletcher (R)
          Amended:  6/3/10 in Senate
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE  :  5-0, 6/15/10
          AYES:  Corbett, Harman, Hancock, Leno, Walters

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  72-0, 4/15/10 - See last page for vote


           SUBJECT  :    Family Law

           SOURCE  :     Academy of California Adoption Lawyers


           DIGEST  :    This bill makes several changes to adoption  
          processes and adoptive placement considerations.

           ANALYSIS  :    Every year, the Academy of California Adoption  
          Lawyers (ACAL) seeks to clarify or modify provisions in the  
          Family Code which they have identified as having either  
          technical errors or as being the basis for conflicting  
          court rulings that could potentially prolong the adoption  
          process.  This bill is being sponsored by ACAL for this  
          specific purpose.

          Existing law provides that a man is presumed to be a  
          child's father if, among other things:  (a) he has signed a  
          declaration of paternity; (b) he was married to the child's  
          mother and the child was born within 300 days of the  
          marriage; (c) he attempted to marry the child's mother; or  
                                                           CONTINUED





                                                               AB 2020
                                                                Page  
          2

          (d) he holds the child out as his own.  Existing law  
          requires that these presumptions be applied gender  
          neutrally.  (Fam. Code Secs. 7611, 7650;  Elisa B. V.  
          Superior Court  (2005) 37 Cal.4th 108.)

          Existing law provides that, for a child with a presumed  
          father, a child, the child's natural mother, or the  
          presumed father may bring an action to determine the  
          existence of a father-child relationship.  Existing law  
          provides a separate process to determine the existence of a  
          father-child relationship for a child who does not have a  
          presumed father or whose presumed father is deceased.   
          (Fam. Code Secs. 7630-31.)  

          This bill provides that the same process be used to  
          determine the existence of a parent-child relationship,  
          regardless of whether the child has a presumed parent or  
          not, including the same time period for bringing the  
          action.  This process does not apply if the conclusive  
          presumption of paternity for a child of a marriage exists.

          Existing law provides that if a mother consents to the  
          adoption of a child, or relinquishes a child or adoption, a  
          petition to terminate the parental rights of the father is  
          required, subject to specified exceptions, and an action to  
          terminate the parental rights of the father shall be set  
          for a hearing.  (Fam. Code Sec. 7667.)

          This bill authorizes the court in an action to terminate  
          parental rights to dispense with a hearing and issue an ex  
          parte order terminating parental rights if:  (1) the  
          identity or whereabouts of the alleged father is unknown;  
          (2) he has been served with a written notice of his alleged  
          paternity and the potential adoption and has failed to  
          respond; or (3) he has signed a waiver of his right to  
          notice or a denial of paternity.

          Existing law provides that if a child is being considered  
          for adoption, the State Department of Social Services or  
          licensed adoption agency is required to first consider  
          adoptive placement in the home of a relative, unless it is  
          not in the child's best interest, or if other specified  
          conditions exist.  Existing law exempts from this provision  
          a child who has been adjudged a dependent of the juvenile  







                                                               AB 2020
                                                                Page  
          3

          court, for which there are relative placement requirements  
          under the Welfare and Institutions Code.  (Fam. Code Sec.  
          8710.)

          This bill additionally exempts a child, who is the subject  
          of an agency adoption where the birth parent(s) have named  
          the prospective adoptive parent(s), from this requirement.   


          This bill provides that, except as required by the Indian  
          Child Welfare Act, the refusal of a birth parent to place  
          an adoptive child with relatives or siblings is a  
          sufficient basis for finding that such a placement in not  
          in the best interests of the child.  

          This bill provides that this provision should not be  
          construed to require a child who has been placed for  
          adoption to be removed from the adoptive home in order to  
          be placed with siblings or other relatives.

          Existing law provides, if a parent is seeking to relinquish  
          a child or execute an adoption placement agreement, the  
          State Department of Social Services, licensed adoption  
          agency, or adoption service provider is required to ask the  
          child and the child's parent or custodian whether the child  
          is, or may be, a member of an Indian tribe.  Existing law  
          provides that these entities are required to send a  
          specified notice and a request for confirmation of the  
          child's Indian status to any parent or custodian of the  
          child, and to any Indian tribe of which the child is, or  
          may be, a member.  (Fam. Code Sec. 8620.)

          This bill additionally includes an attorney for the  
          prospective adoptive parents among the entities that are  
          required to send this notice and request for confirmation  
          of a child's Indian status.

          Existing law provides that in each case of stepparent  
          adoption, the probation officer, qualified court  
          investigator, licensed clinical social worker, licensed  
          marriage family therapist, or the county welfare department  
          is required to conduct an investigation.  (Fam. Code Sec.  
          9001.)








                                                               AB 2020
                                                                Page  
          4

          This bill additionally includes a licensed adoption agency  
          among the entities that are required to conduct the  
          investigation.

          Existing law provides that a court may appoint a guardian  
          of the person or estate of a minor child if it appears  
          necessary or convenient, as specified.  Existing law  
          provides that a proceeding to have the child declared free  
          from the custody and control of one or both parents may be  
          brought in the guardianship proceeding if specified  
          requirements are met, including a requirement that the  
          child have been in the physical custody of the guardian for  
          a period of not less than two years.  (Prob. Code Sec.  
          1516.5.)

          Existing law provides that a guardianship case is to be  
          consolidated with an adoption case if the same child is the  
          subject of each action.  Existing law provides that the  
          consolidated case should be heard in the court where the  
          adoption is pending.   (Prob. Code Sec. 1510.)

          This bill provides that a proceeding to have a child who is  
          the subject of a guardianship declared free from the  
          custody or control of one or both parents may be brought  
          within the existing guardianship proceeding, in an adoption  
          action, or in a separate action filed for that purpose.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  No    
          Local:  No

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  6/17/10)

          Academy of California Adoption Lawyers (source)
          Family Law Section of the State Bar

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    According to the author's office  
          and the sponsor, this bill seeks to address technical  
          issues that may cause families pursuing adoptions to spend  
          scarce resources on legal fees due to inconsistencies in  
          state court and statutory laws.


           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  : 
          AYES:  Ammiano, Anderson, Arambula, Bass, Beall, Bill  







                                                               AB 2020
                                                                Page  
          5

            Berryhill, Tom Berryhill, Blakeslee, Blumenfield,  
            Bradford, Brownley, Buchanan, Caballero, Charles  
            Calderon, Carter, Chesbro, Conway, Cook, Coto, Davis, De  
            La Torre, De Leon, Emmerson, Eng, Feuer, Fletcher, Fong,  
            Fuentes, Fuller, Furutani, Gaines, Galgiani, Garrick,  
            Gilmore, Hagman, Hall, Harkey, Hayashi, Hernandez, Hill,  
            Huber, Huffman, Jeffries, Knight, Lieu, Logue, Bonnie  
            Lowenthal, Ma, Mendoza, Miller, Monning, Nava, Nestande,  
            Niello, Nielsen, Norby, V. Manuel Perez, Portantino,  
            Ruskin, Salas, Saldana, Silva, Skinner, Smyth, Solorio,  
            Audra Strickland, Swanson, Torlakson, Torres, Villines,  
            Yamada, John A. Perez
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Adams, Block, DeVore, Evans, Jones,  
            Torrico, Tran, Vacancy


          RJG:do  6/17/10   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

                                ****  END  ****