Senator Steve Saland (R,C - Poughkeepsie) today announced that a bill he authored to ensure impartiality in adoption proceedings has been signed by the Governor.
Senate Bill 7419A was introduced by Senator Saland at the request of Judge George Marlow, who has served Dutchess County as a judge in Family Court, the State Supreme Court and now serves on the Appellate Division of the First Department. In order to provide impartiality in adoption cases, current law provides that an attorney cannot serve as the legal representative of both the adoptive and birth parents. The law, however, was silent on whether an attorney could represent one of the parties to the adoption as well as the authorized adoption agency which provided services to one of the parties.
"Judge Marlow is a well respected judge who has presided over many adoption cases. When he came to me with his concern that potential conflicts of interest could arise in certain adoption cases due to this loophole in the law, I introduced this legislation," said Senator Saland. "Most attorneys and law firms which deal with adoption cases do so with the utmost propriety. Conflicts of interest, however, can arise in some cases. The tremendous emotions which both birth parents and adoptive parents bring to adoption proceedings can make them vulnerable -- this new law will add an extra layer of protection", Saland continued.
The new law provides that every party to an adoption, whether it be the birth parent, adoptive parent or authorized agency should have an independent advocate so there will be no actual or perceived bias or partiality. The bill takes effect June 1, 2007.