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Child Custody Case of Illegal Immigrant Addresses National Issue - Part 2

In our last post we discussed the facts of a child custody case dealing with an illegal immigrant's child custody rights. The issue was can a child of an illegal immigrant in the United States be adopted while the illegal immigrant serves a prison sentence. The state Supreme Court of Missouri heard arguments for the case this week. In this post, we will discuss the arguments heard by the court.

One year after the adoptive family filed adoption papers in October 2007, the adoptive family and the biological mother appeared in court to determine the mother's parental rights and the family's adoption. The adoptive family hired the only Spanish speaking attorney in town to represent the mother. The court ruled in the adoptive family's favor finding that the mother had abandoned the child. The mother then appealed the decision which ultimately sent the case to the state Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, the case was heard by the state Supreme Court, and it has been over two years since the mother has seen her son. The mother's new attorney argued that imprisonment is not the same thing as abandonment and therefore the adoption is invalid. The mother's interests were also represented by an ambassador of her home country, Guatemala. The ambassador argued that the woman lost her parental rights without her knowledge and without her consent while she served her sentence.

The adoptive family's attorney argued that the welfare of the child must be considered and that the child should stay with the adoptive parents who have been the boy's family for the past three years. The mother's attorney countered that the viewpoint of the adoptive family's attorney overlooks the presumption of preserving the natural parent-child relationship. The mother's attorney also argued that the adoptive family did not comply with statutes on the mother's right to custody. A justice of the state Supreme Court seemed to agree. The court did not reach a decision on Tuesday.

Source: Columbia Missourian, "Missouri Supreme Court Hears Illegal Immigrant Child Custody Case," Alysha Love, 11/9/10

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