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Adoption is the process for legally establishing a parent-child relationship between two persons where the parent is not the biological father or mother. Adoption issues are usually covered under family law. Family law encompasses a number of legal issues pertaining to family matters. There are a number of different types of adoptions including agency adoptions, independent adoptions, international adoptions, stepparent adoptions, relative adoptions, and more .
There are different rules and statutes that apply to different types of adoptions. However, all adoptions must be approved by a court . The prospective adoptive parents must submit a petition or request for approval with the court and go through the process of an adoption hearing. At the court hearing, a judge will take into account whether the adoption is in the best interest of a child and issue an order to approve and finalize the action.
In a stepparent adoption , the law typically requires consent from the biological parent of the child. Since adoption can terminate the rights and responsibilities of a biological parent, that parent must typically sign a document consenting to the adoption. In the event that the child's birth parent cannot be found, is deceased, or refuses to consent to the adoption, the custodial parent may bring the adoption action before the court for approval to terminate the parent/child relationship. However, this is not possible in some states.
Even if the birth parent of a child has consented to the stepparent adoption, a court must determine whether the impending adoption is in the child's best interest. The court will look at a number of factors including the stability of the custodial parent's marriage. A stepparent adoption will terminate almost all ties between birth parent and child, giving all parental rights and responsibilities to the adoptive parent. These ties usually include child support, child custody and visitation, inheritance rights, and more. In many states, the law requires that a child of a certain age—typically in their teens—also give consent to the stepparent adoption.
In a relative adoption , also known as a kinship adoption , a member of a child's family such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle, will step forward to adopt a child. A relative adoption usually occurs if child's parents die when they are minors, or if the parents are unfit to care for the child for reasons such as drugs or being in jail. While the law requires living birth parents to consent to an adoption, the court can legally terminate parental rights for reasons such as unfitness and approve the adoption.
Adoption laws vary greatly from state to state and strict compliance with the law is mandatory. In order to best protect your legal rights and maximize your options, it is wise to seek the assistance of a qualified family law attorney who has experience handling adoption cases. A competent lawyer can inform you of the laws of your state, draft the adoption petition, and represent you at the hearing. Please contact us today to speak to a qualified family law attorney free of charge.
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