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Adoption Law Standing Committee Policies

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100 Definitions
200 Continuing Legal Education
300 Peer Review
400 Substantial Involvement


100 DEFINITIONS

1.01 “Adoption Law” is the practice of law dealing with the complexities and legalities of interstate and intrastate adoption placements, including civil controversies arising from termination of the biological parents’ parental rights, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and Interstate Placements. In addition to the actual adoption placement, “adoption law” includes evaluating, handling and resolving such controversies prior to the placement of a child for adoption and all post- placement proceedings. The practice of adoption law in the state of Florida is generally unique in that decisional, statutory, and procedural laws are specific to this state.

1.02 “Adoption Placements” for the purpose of Rule 6-28.3(b) of the Adoption Law Certification Standards, describe the process of surrendering a child for adoption and creating a legal parental relationship between the child and non-relative adoptive parents within the meaning and intent of Chapter 63 of the Florida Statutes.

(a) Adoption Placements and legal proceedings simultaneously undertaken with respect to the same child or sibling group shall be deemed collectively as one adoption placement, except as otherwise set forth in Policy 4.01(d).

(b) Adoption Placements shall not include :

1. the domestication of Intercountry adoptions;

2. the termination of parental rights under Chapter 39, Florida Statutes; or

3. the finalization of an adoption where the applicant was not substantially involved in the placement of the child as set forth in Policy 1.05(a) below or the termination of parental rights under Chapter 63.

(c) The Committee shall determine what constitutes an adoption placement on a case-by-case basis.

1.03 “Contested Adoption Proceedings” for the purpose of Rule 6-28.3(b) of the Adoption Law Certification Standards, occur when a litigant contests a Chapter 63, Florida Statutes, proceeding to terminate parental rights in furtherance of adoption or an adoption judgment. The proceeding may occur prior to or subsequent to entry of a final judgment of termination of parental rights in furtherance of adoption or adoption and may include the contested stepparent or relative adoption as well as intervention.

Contested Adoption Proceedings are eligible for consideration when:

(a) The proceeding includes an adversarial evidentiary hearing or trial in which the applicant has substantial involvement (as defined in policy 1.05(b) below) and the ultimate issues are submitted to the trier of fact for final resolution.

(b) The proceeding includes an adversarial evidentiary hearing or trial in which the applicant has substantial involvement (as defined in policy 1.05(b) below) and the ultimate issues are resolved with a mediator or by the parties prior to the issues being submitted to the trier of fact for final resolution.

(c) The proceeding involves extraordinary, complex contested litigation in which the applicant has substantial involvement (as defined in policy 1.05(b) below) and the ultimate issues are resolved with a mediator or by the parties prior to an adversarial evidentiary hearing or trial.

(d) The Committee shall determine what constitutes a contested adoption proceeding on a case-by-case basis.

1.04 “Adoption Appeal” for the purpose of Rule 6-28.3(b) of the Adoption Law Certification Standards, is any appeal of an issue arising under Ch. 63, Florida Statutes, whether the issue was presented pre-or-post finalization of the adoption. An Adoption Appeal is only eligible for consideration when the applicant establishes that the applicant was responsible for all or a majority of the legal decisions in each such matter, including the filing of principal briefs in an appellate case or the filing of petitions or responses thereto in extraordinary writ cases. In all cases, the applicant shall specifically identify any co-counsel and demonstrate that the applicant’s level of participation was substantial and direct. In support of the application requesting credit for an Adoption Appeal, the applicant shall submit each brief and appropriately redact all identifying information regarding birth and adoptive families. For good cause shown, the Committee may consider the following:

(a) A brief written for different appellate levels: ie. District Court, Supreme Court and Federal Courts, may be submitted as a separate appellate case handled by the applicant provided, however, that cases arising from a single proceeding may not be counted more than twice. Briefs written for different appellate levels must be substantially different in order to be counted twice.

(b) An amicus brief in an appeal arising out of litigation of an adoption matter.
(c) The Committee shall determine what constitutes an appeal on a case-by-case basis.

1.05 “Substantial Involvement” for the purpose of Rule 6-28.3(c) of the Adoption Law Certification Standards, shall be defined as the following:

(a) “Substantial Involvement” in adoption placements encompasses active participation in interviewing and counseling adoptive parents, providing full disclosure to adoptive parents regarding applicable law and the subject minor child, providing legally mandated disclosure to adoptive, biological and legal parents, investigating issues necessary to assure a legally stable adoption placement, preparation of pleadings, providing notice to individuals legally entitled to notice, taking consents for adoption, presentation of evidence in a termination of parental rights and adoption proceedings, attendance at hearings, preparation of interstate adoption documentation, drafting and preparation of post placement communication agreements, and authorizing payment of living and medical expenses.

(b) “Substantial Involvement” in contested adoption proceedings or appeals encompasses active participation in interviewing birth/ adoptive parent(s) and witnesses; client counseling; evaluating issues and remedies; investigation; preparation of pleadings, motions and memoranda; preparation of appellate writs and briefs; discovery; taking testimony; presentation of evidence; negotiating and preparing settlement agreements; attendance at hearings; attendance at mediation and oral arguments.

(c) Substantial Involvement in a contested adoption proceeding or appeal requires that the applicant demonstrate responsibility for at least 50% of the legal work in preparing and presenting the case for any trial or appeal.


200 CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION

2.01 Course Approval Standards- The applicant must submit at least 30 hours of approved CLE in the field of adoption law, at least 3 hours of which are approved Adoption Ethics CLE.

(a) Advanced

An advanced CLE course should challenge the intellect of and/or convey new material and information to an active practitioner. As a threshold matter, the effort must require and reflect substantial analysis and preparation and be of such quality so as to enhance the proficiency of a Board Certified Adoption Law attorney.

1. Courses submitted for full credit toward adoption certification or recertification must meet the criteria of advanced CLE as defined in 2.01(a).

2. Thorough, high quality, carefully prepared written outlines and materials are required for credit review.

3. Course instructors shall be individuals with substantial practical or academic experience. Instructors' qualifications and appropriate background information shall be set forth in the application for certification credit.

(b) Intermediate

An intermediate course shall be awarded 100 percent of the number of credit hours approved by staff for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education.

(c) Basic

A basic course shall be awarded 100 percent of the number of credit hours approved by staff for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education

(d) Adoption Law Mediation Courses

Mediation courses will be reviewed by the committee and credit will be determined on an ad hoc basis.

2.02 Credit for Other CLE Activities

(a) Lecturing, within or outside of the State of Florida, will be accepted if the course is accepted for credit by the Florida Bar.

1. Satisfactory performance as a lecturer on adoption law in an approved CLE seminar may entitle an attorney to credit.

2. Lecturer shall mean lecturer, workshop discussion leader or panel member in a seminar or institute.

3. Thorough, high quality, carefully-prepared written outlines and materials are required for credit review in connection with lecture presentations.

4. Credit shall be calculated based upon the presentation time. The amount of credit awarded shall not exceed 50% of the total hours required for certification or recertification.

5. Lecturing at basic seminars shall entitle an attorney to receive 3 hours of credit for each hour of lecture time as limited by 2.02(a)(4).

6. Lecturing at intermediate and advanced seminars shall entitle an attorney to receive 5 hours of credit for each hour of lecture time as limited by 2.02(a)(4).

7. Repeating the lecture at one or more locations shall not be a basis for additional credit.

(b) University Course Teaching

1. Credit may be earned through teaching adoption law courses at an approved law school or other graduate or undergraduate level program.

2. Credit shall be calculated according to the following formula: Four times the university assigned quarter hour or five times the university assigned semester hour.
3. Credit may not be earned for teaching the same adoption law course during any reporting period.

(c) University Course Attendance

1. Credit may be earned through attending university law school adoption courses and graduate adoption law courses.

2. Attendance credit shall be calculated according to the following formula: Two times the university assigned quarter hour or three times the university assigned semester hour.

3. Graduate non-law and undergraduate courses shall not be considered for credit.

(d) Writing

1. Credit for writing articles, books and chapters in books published by The Florida Bar may be granted when the work is completed and/or accepted. Credit for articles, books and chapters written for publications other than those produced by The Florida Bar will be determined on an ad hoc basis and only after publication.

2. The amount of credit awarded will be based upon the effort involved and the percentage of preparation time determined to have enhanced the contributor's proficiency in his or her law practice and/or the readers awareness of the subject matter.

3. Where a publication has more than one author, full credit may be awarded to each author or divided among them in a manner consistent with the facts presented by all the authors.

4. No single publication approved for credit may exceed ten (10) hours for initial certification or recertification.

(e) Steering Committee Membership

No certification credit shall be given for steering committee service unless that service contributed substantially to an attorney's knowledge of adoption law.

(f) Examination Question Preparers

Committee members participating in the preparation of the annual examination shall be awarded 10 hours of advanced level CLE credit. Anyone other than a committee member who assists shall be granted 5 hours of advanced level CLE credit.

(g) Individual Study

Audio and videotapes may be utilized by an individual attorney and credit for these activities shall be the same as that given the live presentation.

(h) Other Educational Experience

Other educational activities or experiences which enhance the applicants proficiency in his or her adoption law practice may be submitted for credit. Determination as to whether such experience or activity shall receive credit shall be made on a case by case basis.


3.00 PEER REVIEW

3.01 Judicial reference statements should be completed by acting or retired judges, general magistrates, or senior judicial officers who presided over an adoption matter involving the applicant in the last two years.

3.02 Secondary Peer Review

(a) Staff or the committee shall select secondary references.

(b) A minimum of (2) secondary references shall be selected, except in unusual circumstances.

(c) The references may be “blind” and shall be selected either from Exhibit B-1, Exhibit B-2, from the additional names submitted by the references, or other individuals who possess knowledge about the applicant.

400 SUBSTANTIAL INVOLVEMENT

4.01 If an applicant does not meet the minimum requirements of 50 adoption placements or, alternatively, 15 contested adoption proceedings/appeals as required in Rule 6-28.3(b) of the Adoption Law Certification Standards, the applicant may submit an application detailing his or her substantial involvement in a combination of adoption placements and contested adoption proceedings/appeals (hereafter collectively referred to as Adoption Matters”). To determine whether an applicant has the minimum combination number of Adoption Matters the following formula shall be utilized:

(a) A point system will be used whereby each adoption placement, contested adoption proceeding or appeal will be assigned points as set forth below. Absent good cause shown, the applicant must submit a minimum of 100 points for review under this section as follows:

1. Each adoption placement as defined in Policy 1.02 shall be assigned two (2) points.

2. Each contested adoption proceeding as defined in Policy 1.03 shall be assigned six (6) points.

3. Each adoption appeal as defined in Policy 1.04 shall be assigned six (6) points.

(b) The point system set forth in this policy 4.01 shall only be utilized to determine whether an applicant has met the minimum combination number of cases.

(c) The Committee shall determine whether an applicant has met the minimum number of cases requirement as required in Rule 6-28.3(b) of the Adoption Law Certification Standards, on a case-by-case basis.

(d) Cases that involve the same child or sibling group cannot be considered for more than one Adoption Matter. For good cause shown, the applicant may count such case as two Adoption Matters if the applicant meets the separate substantial involvement requirements for each such event. With the sole exception set forth in Policy 1.04(a), no case involving the same child or sibling group may be counted as more than two Adoption Matters.

4.02 All qualified adoption placements and contested adoption proceedings must conclude within the required timeframe. An adoption appeal may qualify for consideration after submission of a written brief to the appellate court.

4.03 Service as a Guardian Ad Litem, standing alone, shall not constitute substantial involvement.

4.04 The Committee shall determine whether an applicant has substantial involvement on a case-by-case basis.

[Revised: 11-05-2013]