Guardianship is the legal ability to care for a child as a non-parent, ordered by the court based on the best interest of the child. Adoption is the most permanent version of care available, allowing a non-parent adult to obtain legal rights to the child and step into the role as a parent. If a child’s natural parents are no longer or currently unable to care adequately for their child, it may be best to consider guardianship or adoption, depending on the circumstances of the situation and the child’s needs. In order to legally secure rights to a child, either through guardianship or adoption, certain parental consents may be required. Determination of paternity, which is the declaration of the child’s father, may be necessary to continue with either process.
Determining Parent-Child Relationships in Kansas
For the mother to establish a parent-child relationship is relatively easy compared to establishing the father’s relationship to the child. K.S.A. 23-2207 (2011) provides that the parent-child relationship is established for a mother “by proof of her having given birth to the child, [in other ways provided in the Kansas Parentage] act” or by adoption. In most cases, parents who have a child outside of marriage agree on who the natural parents are, however, that is not always the case. If a child’s father is in question, determining paternity may present more difficult issues.
Conversely and recently decided, Kansas courts do not require that a child must have both one father and one mother. Specifically, the Kansas appellate courts found in 2013 that the Kansas Parentage Act applies to establish parenting rights for same-or-opposite sex couples when an alleged parent, regardless of actually being the child’s “biological parent” or not, “notoriously or in writing recognizes” that person’s parentage of the child.
A Parent’s Rights to a Child
Every parent, whether natural, adoptive parent, step or a guardian or conservator, has the right to custody of their child in Kansas. While there is a presumption of paternity in many instances, establishing a father’s legal right to a child can be challenging. The judge may weigh a variety of factors when determining if the father has a right to custody in light of the child’s best interest. The relationship the father has previously or currently has with his child can encourage or deter the judge’s decision to declare paternity and his right to custody. A petition to establish guardianship or adoption rights requires that both parents, if necessary, consent to the guardianship or adoption. A father’s rights may not be declared if he is substantially unavailable, unwilling, uninvolved or uninterested.
Contact Kansas Guardianship and Adoption Lawyer Tom McDowell Today
If you are considering establishing a guardianship or adoption, and have questions about paternity or the process, our law firm is here to help. Call Kansas Guardianship and Adoption Lawyer Tom McDowell, of McDowell Chartered Legal Services, today at (316) 633-4322, to discuss the best options available to you and your child.