LEGAL PRACTICE IN THE PROBATE COURT
Legal practice in the Probate Court is restricted by law to attorneys who are licensed by the Supreme Court of Ohio. If an individual wishes to handle his or her own case, he or she may do so; however, they may not represent others. Due to the complexity of the law and the desire to avoid costly errors, most individuals who have filings before the Court are represented by an attorney. Deputy clerks are prevented by law from practicing law and, therefore, are not permitted to give advice.
Adoption is the legal procedure by which a person becomes, through Court action, part of a family other than that of his or her natural parents. Helping a child and parent become a family is one of the most rewarding duties of the Court. Whether you are a two-parent family, a single parent or a stepparent, consider creating a loving “forever” bond with a child through Adoption.
The Supreme Court of Ohio has developed Standard Probate Forms to assist in filing an ADOPTION. If you would like to use their forms SEARCH HERE.
In addition to the Standard Probate Forms located on the Supreme Court website, Sandusky County Probate Court has developed local forms to assist in filing a PLACEMENT as follows:
MUST I HAVE AN ATTORNEY OR AGENCY ARRANGE THE ADOPTION?
Yes. Only an Attorney or Agency may arrange an Adoption.
WHO MUST CONSENT?
The parents of the child to be adopted, a minor being adopted who is over 12 years old, and an adult adoptee must consent to Adoption. Questions concerning consent should be directed to an Agency or Attorney.
WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS OF AN UNWED FATHER?
An unwed father, known as a Putative Father, may preserve his rights to consent to an Adoption of a child born after January 1, 1997, by registering with the Ohio Department of Human Services, Putative Father Registry. Registration must occur prior to the birth of the child or no later than 15 days after the child’s birth. As to the rights of a Putative Father prior to January 1, 1997, contact an Agency or Attorney.
WHAT IS AN OPEN ADOPTION?
As an alternative to a traditional closed Adoption where identities are not disclosed, an Open Adoption occurs when both the natural and adopting parents, prior to the Adoption, voluntarily disclose their identities to each other. Open Adoption law applies only to non-relative Adoptions, and may involve a non-binding agreement for contact between the adopted child and the natural parent(s). However, all parental control of the adopted child remains with the adopting parents.
WHERE SHOULD I FILE FOR ADOPTION?
Since the Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over Adoptions, you are required to file in the Probate Court of the County where any one of the following apply:
IS A HOME STUDY NECESSARY?
Yes. Regardless of the type of Adoption, a home study is required. An individual known as an Assessor, who is qualified and trained for the task, will complete the home study.
DOES THE COURT EVER APPOINT AN ATTORNEY OR WAIVE COURTS COSTS?
No. If you are unable to hire a private Attorney, you may contact Legal Aid. Adoption fees are never waived.
MUST I APPEAR IN COURT?
Yes. It is mandatory, whether adopting through an Agency, or independently, that the person adopting and the child or children sought to be adopted appear before the Probate Court for the final hearing. In certain circumstances, there may be other appearances required. Any exceptions can only be granted by the Court for good cause shown.
CAN I ACCESS ADOPTION FILES?
Adoption files are confidential, and closed to the public. The Adoptee or Adopting Parents, however, by personally appearing at the Court with a picture I.D may obtain the following information:
WILL THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE BE CHANGED?
Yes. The original birth certificate will be sealed and a new birth certificate issued. The adopting parent or parents will be reflected on the birth certificate, just as though they had been the biological parents. Adopted children born in Ohio or a foreign country, receive their new birth certificate from the Office of Vital Statistics, Columbus, Ohio, Request for Foreign Birth Record. Children adopted in Ohio, but born in other states, obtain their new birth certificates from the Office of Vital Statistics in the state where they were born.
CAN AN ADOPTION BE UNDONE?
No. An Adoption is permanent and forever! Contesting an Adoption must be done within one year after the final decree is issued.