Family Law: STORM V. MULLINS (SC 8/24/2006)

FAMILY LAW:  Adoptions and due process

DATE RENDERED  8/24/2006

This is an appeal of a judgment of adoption.  Appellant, Sharon Lynn Storm (f/k/a Sharon Lynn Mullins), is the natural mother of two minor children, B.L.M. and A.R.M.  Appellees, Jerry and Lorraine Mullins, are the paternal grandparents, and adoptive parents, of the two children . Appellant challenged the adoptions, arguing that defects in the original proceedings were such that the adoptions were invalid.  The trial court denied Appellant’s request, relying on KRS 199.540(2), which bars any direct or collateral attack on adoptions after one year, and the Court of Appeals affirmed that decision.   Having granted Appellant’s motion for discretionary review, the SC reversed the Court of Appeals and remanded the case to the Floyd Circuit Court, Family Court Division for additional fact-finding because the record did not establish conclusively whether the requirements of due process were met.

Since the parties neither briefed nor argued the specific requirements of due process and their application to the facts of this case, the SC declined to decide that issue at this time.

The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed and the case was remanded to the family court for further proceedings to determine whether the facts are such that due process requires the judgment of adoption be set aside.

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