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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ohio Supreme Court: Rights of Biological Parents ‘Precious and Fundamental’

Ohio Supreme Court: Rights of Biological Parents ‘Precious and Fundamental’

This case out of the Ohio Supreme Court does little but suggests much (Leagle, 7/22/10). Reading the court’s dicta, i.e. the verbal embroidery with which it decorates its actual holding, fathers’ rights in adoption cases just got a huge boost.Back in July 2005, Susan Tuttle gave birth to a child. She was married to Jeremy Tuttle at the time and his name was placed on the birth certificate. The court’s recitation of facts leaves us to guess at just how and why certain events transpired, but, a month later, DNA testing on the baby had been performed. It showed that Tuttle was not the child’s father; Gary Otten was. Just who asked for the testing to be done is anyone’s guess. Whether Otten requested the testing or whether he even knew it had been done, the court doesn’t tell us.Whatever the case, not surprisingly, Jeremy Tuttle divorced Susan in November of that year. A little over a year later, Gary Otten filed a suit to establish his paternity rights and presumably to get some sort of a custodial order. But then Susan married another man, Kevin Crooks, who filed a petition to adopt the child who was then almost two years old. In order for Crooks to adopt the child, Otten’s parental rights would have had to be terminated by the probate court.At this point, it’s a good idea to recognize an important fact. There are two types of adoptions - stranger adoptions and non-stranger adoptions. Stranger adoptions are the kind most people tend to think about when they think about adoption. They’re the ones in which a couple adopts a child they don’t know, a child, in other words, who is a stranger to them.

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