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On April 30, 2014, The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) granted accreditation to the NALA Certified Paralegal program for demonstrating compliance with the NCCA Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. NCCA is the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. The NCCA Standards were created to ensure certification programs adhere to modern standards of practice for the certification industry.  The NALA Certified Paralegal program joins an elite group of more than 120 organizations representing over 270 certification programs that have received and maintained NCCA accreditation. More information on the NCCA is available online at www.credentialingexcellence.org/NCCA

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Family Law - Adoption and Assisted Reproduction
This page summarizes the Family Law Advanced Paralegal Certification program on Adoption and Assisted Reproduction. Use the links below to review the items, register or login to the course. If you have not already registered as a user on the NALA APC web site, click "Register for the Course." If you have already registered for this or another APC course, you have already created a user account, click "Login."

Paralegals who are not seeking the Advanced Paralegal Certification credential are welcome to register and take any APC courses as advanced continuing education programs. CLE credit is available upon completion of the courses from NALA for Certified Paralegals, and from various state CLE programs.

Prerequisite Knowledge Learning Contract Register for the course
Fee: $250 Members; $300 Non Members

Family Law APC Certification Courses and Credentials

The APC Certification Board has determined that an ACP designation in Family Law will be awarded to Certified Paralegals who complete the following courses:
  • Child Support, Visitation and Child Custody
  • Division of Property
  • Adoption and Assisted Reproduction
  • Dissolution Case Management – to include critical information related to management of a case from intake to decree. This would include information related to litigation of the case, reading tax returns and unusual instances such as dissolution of same sex marriages.

Successful completion of all 4 courses will lead to a certification in Family Law. Upon completion of the individual courses, and all course requirements, qualified Certified Paralegals will receive an Advanced Paralegal Certification credential in the individual area.  Completion of this course will lead to an ACP credential in Dissolution Case Management.

Course Description

Adoption and assisted reproduction is a developing and dynamic practice area. In the United States, starting in the 1960’s, contraception became widely available, abortion became legal, and the number of viable assisted reproduction methods increased, which led to the number of children available for adoption to decrease. We found ourselves redefining “family” and responding by overhauling the law of this new “family.”

Course modules include:

Introduction: Legal Framework
Parent and Child
Voluntary Relinquishment and Consent to Adoption
Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
Adoption Facilitation
Adoption Procedure
The Indian Child Welfare Act
Trending Issues in Adoption
Interstate and Intercountry Adoption
Adoption Records and Access
Assisted Reproduction

After reading about these topics and case law, you’ll perform legal research and apply it to fact patterns, thereby gaining a richer, broader understanding of the intricacies of adoption and assisted reproduction law.

Click here  to open "Role of the Paralegal" in this practice area. This is the basis for this advanced course. 

Prerequisite Knowledge

This course is designed for paralegals that are knowledgeable or experienced in family law. Familiarity with state constitutions and statutes, practice and procedure forms, internet research, basic taxation, basic litigation, agency law, contracts, liability, and remedies will be advantageous.

Course Modules

The Advanced Paralegal Certification course on Family Law -Adoption and Assisted Reproduction consists of successful completion of 10 modules of text, assessments, and assignments. The modules and their objectives are as follows:

1. Legal Framework
In Module 1, we delve into the law governing the status of parents and their legal rights and obligations in the parent-child relationship. Topics include the nature and legal status of parenthood,  including defining parents, children, and families; legal theory; components of the parent-child relationship; division of parental rights and responsibilities; biological parents, including patriarchy, presumption of paternity, grandparents; issues in paternity, including  nonmarital children, biology plus, acknowledgment, judicial and administrative proceedings, and statutory presumptions of paternity; modern recognition of the functional approach to defining functional parents, including de facto parents, the psychological parent doctrine, foster parents, and trustees; the nature of parental rights, including care and custody of children, presumption of fitness, earnings and services, access, and control; parental obligations, including persons obligated, scope, necessaries and family expense statutes, medical care, and tort liability for parents and children; and children’s rights regarding support obligations, emancipation, and establishing paternity.
2. Voluntary Relinquishment and Consent to Adoption 
Next, we examine the legal process by which birth parents voluntarily relinquish their legal parental rights and consent to adoption of their children. Further subjects consist of the statutory requirements for valid relinquishments, consents, and notice requirements; parties whose consent is required - mothers, legal fathers, putative fathers, parents of minor parents, guardian, agency, judge, and in some instances, the child; the form, procedure, and timing of valid consent; the validity and revocability of relinquishment, including undue influence, conditional consent, effect of revocation, and minors; notice requirements, including persons entitled to notice, unknown fathers, good faith efforts, and notice by publication; rights of putative fathers, including identification, notification, qualification as legal father, and putative father registries; and causes of action, prima facie case, and defenses to tortious interference with adoption.
3. Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
Here, we cover the essentials of the legal processes and standards for involuntary termination of parental rights. Topics begin with state intervention into the parent-child relationship, including the doctrine of parens patriae, state social welfare systems, statutory grounds, summary seizure, and juvenile court systems. We continue with definitions and standards of child neglect, abuse, and abandonment; foster care, including placement, kinship, voluntary placement, and federal incentive statutes; involuntary termination procedures, including the petition, aggravated circumstances, due process, standards of proof, and records on appeal; Constitutional and state requirements of counsel for parents and children; best interest factors considered by courts, including permanency, relationships, and children conceived by sexual assault.
4. Adoption Facilitation
Next, we explore the individuals and entities that facilitate adoptions, and the laws regulating them. We discuss types, licensing, processes and services of private adoption agencies; public agencies, including state child welfare services, function, special needs, and adoption assistance; non-agency adoptions, including processes, restrictions , advantages, and disadvantages; facilitation, referral, advertising, and prohibited practices; fees, costs, and expenses; and representation by attorneys.
5. Adoption Procedure
The procedures necessary for a successful adoption, from obtaining necessary consents through finalization and issuance of an adoption decree in court are fundamental to paralegals in this practice area. We include topics of initial case evaluation, including assessments of birth parents and prospective adoptive parents, retainer agreements, and acknowledgements; home assessments, including their purpose, timing, and process, interviews, safety inspections, medical exams, background checks, documents, reports, and updates; initiation of court proceedings, including the petition to adopt, jurisdiction, venue, standing, and notice; court procedure, including temporary placements and waiting periods, hearings, and best interests analysis; and the final decree, including form and contents, fees, expenses, and effect of illegal payments.
6. The Indian Child Welfare Act 
This module presents an overview of a federal statute that plays a dominant role in adoptions of Native American children — the Indian Child Welfare Act. We start with a discussion of the purpose of the statute, related state statutes, regulations, and guidelines. Further topics are the application of the statute, including definitions of Indian child and Indian tribe, sovereign entities and political classification, proceedings covered by the ICWA, and the existing Indian family doctrine; tribal rights, including exclusive jurisdiction, concurrent jurisdiction, and tribal intervention; notification requirements, including involuntary termination proceedings, tribal response, BIA responsibility, and voluntary proceedings; statutory preferences in foster care and adoption placements, and good cause to the contrary; and safeguards provided by the statute, including active efforts requirements, right to appointed counsel, burden of proof, expert testimony, consent requirements, and withdrawal of consent.
7. Trending Issues in Adoption
Next up, we look at current special issues at the forefront of modern adoption law: transracial, stepparent, second parent, and coparent adoption, and adoption of adults. Specifically, we discuss transracial adoption, including a discussion of race and culture, and applicable state statutes. Stepparent adoption topics include stepparent rights and duties, process of stepparent adoption, approaches, consent and consequences, consent of child, appointment of counsel, and inheritance. In second- and coparent adoption we include definitions, personal relationships, and full faith and credit; and a discussion of adult adoption, including state restrictions, reasons, reverse adoption, and grounds for denial.
8. Interstate and Intercounty Adoption
Adoptions that cross state and national boundaries have significantly different laws. First we deal with interstate adoptions, and the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. Topics include the purpose and provisions of the compact, applicability, exemptions, and sanctions; administration and process of the compact, with placement requests, request documentation, reports and recommendations, arrangements for transfer, time limits, and post-placement supervision and reporting. Second, we explore intercountry adoption and the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. Topics include process under the Convention, including the required central authority, law of foreign countries, fees and contact, and certification; US immigration and citizenship, including the US Citizenship and Immigration Service, classifying children for entry into the United States, petition to classify child–orphan petition, documentation, approval or denial, immigrant visa, and automatic citizenship for adopted children; and finalization of intercountry adoptions, including children adopted and not adopted in foreign countries, and the benefits of finalization in the US. 
9. Adoption Records and Access 
Confidentiality and sealing of adoption records, and mechanisms for access under certain circumstances is integral to every adoption. We delineate the traditional sealing of records, including confidentiality policies and reasons for disclosure; identifying and nonidentifying information; pre-adoption disclosure, including statutory requirements, form and content, and disclosure failures; access to sealed records, including consent registries, confidential intermediaries, and involuntary disclosure; post-adoption agreements, including open adoption, standing, content of agreements, disputes, conditions, and court-ordered contact; and disruption and dissolution of adoptions. 
10. Assisted Reproduction
This final module surveys current trends in ART (assisted reproduction technology) and its newsworthy challenges to courts, legal professionals, and family law. We begin with terminology, such as intrauterine insemination and embryo transfer, in vitro fertilization, cryopreservation, surrogacy, donors, and intended parents; and continue with special issues in ART, including custody and visitation, disposition of embryos, donor status, benefits and inheritance, research, and compensation; treatment of ART by the Uniform Parentage Act, Uniform Probate Act, and ABA Model Act Governing Assisted Reproduction Technology; regulation of ART, including statutes, federal regulation, insurance coverage, and reporting; liability resulting from breaches, failures, and medical malpractice; and surrogacy agreements.