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|Posted on February 19, 2014 at 2:27 PM||comments ()|
There are many steps in an adoption. The first is meeting with an attorney. It is strongly suggested that you seek the the assistance of an attorney due to the complexity of this specific type of law. After the initial meeting with the attorney, you will need to gather information for the attorney. It can be helpful to take notes during this meeting. After you have turned over the important information to the attorney, the attorney can then begin to draft the initial filing documents that you need to sign.
A time-consuming part of this process is getting the other biological parent's rights extinguished. Sometimes the client knows where the other biological parent is and sometimes the client does not. This will affect the timeline and the legal channels through which this is accomplished.
When all the correct documents have been filed, a court hearing can be scheduled to finalize the adoption. This is where the timeline varies to a great degree. Some counties require extra steps like a home visit from the guardian ad litem whereas other counties routinely waive such requirements. Some counties also have a much higher volume than others.
Additionally, there is a requirement that the step parent have been married to the biological parent of the child for at least six months. If this is not met, this can delay the process until the statutory time period requirement has been met.
BOTTOM LINE: It can take anywhere between two months for a very fast adoption and ten months typically for an adoption that is in a higher volume county.
|Posted on January 14, 2014 at 6:13 PM||comments ()|
Yes, in some situations. A child can only have two legal parents. This means that the parent that is not your spouse must give up his or her parental rights to be guardian of his or her child. This can happen in a few different ways but generally this means that (1) the parent signs a piece of paper consenting to the adoption and terminating their own rights or (2) the child is abandoned. Abandonment is a legal term and to prove it, generally one must search for the father through legal channels. Abandonment can also be financial abandonment, by not supporting the child financially.
Many times a father or mother will give up their parental rights and sign a waiver because it allows that person to terminate child support as well. Other times, the parent will give up rights simply because they have never been involved in the child's life. In regards to giving up child support, that means that the adoptive parent has taken on the legal responsibility of financially supporting the child, and, as part of the proceedings, the adoptive parent must attest to his or her ability to financially support the child.
There is also a requirement that the adoptive parent be married to the child's parent (your spouse) and have lived with the child for six months preceding the actual adoption. This requirement has to do with showing the stability of the relationship. As we all know, divorce happens in a great number of marriages. Becoming an adoptive parent is not something to take on lightly. In the event of a divorce, you have parental rights equal to the natural mother or father of the child. This means that you also have custody rights in the event of a divorce.
One more requirement is a background check. It is entirely possible that a past crime, especially any child abuse or neglect, could bring a proceeding to a halt and bar you from becoming an adoptive parent.
In some jurisdictions, a home study is required and a Guardian Ad Litem will talk with both your spouse and you, the prospective adoptive parent. A Guardian Ad Litem is an attorney looking out for the best interest of the child. This person will have to make a recommendation for or against the adoption. Generally, in the home study, this attorney is looking for safety and cleanliness of the home the child is to be raised in. In all jurisdictions, the Guardian Ad Litem will conduct an interview of both of the parents as well as the child (although if the child is very very young the child may not be interviewed-usually within the discretion of the GAL, but somewhere between the ages of 0-4).
Bottom Line: Most conscientious people will make the grade and get the approval of the court and the Guardian Ad Litem. The place where some step-parent adoptions get unhitched is in the early stages, when the other parent (non-spouse) does not want to give up parental rights.