Houston Adoption Lawyers and Attorneys
If you are considering an adoption, working with experienced Houston adoption lawyers can help the process go more smoothly.
Houston Adoption Lawyers Define Adoption Law
Adoption law provides a means for parents to voluntarily assume the legal rights and responsibilities of a child not born to them. The new adoptive parents and the child are treated just like a natural family in the eyes of the law. The foster parents decide essential matters involving medical treatment, education, and religion, as well as regular day-to-day issues that arise in the child’s life. Adopted children can inherit from their new parents the same as natural children.
State laws govern adoption proceedings, and the substantive and procedural rules vary across the country. Most laws require the local department of family services to perform a home study to ensure a stable environment free of dangers and bad influences. Those interested in adoption must also meet age and income requirements.
Termination of Parental Rights
Before an adoption decree can be entered, the parental rights of the birth mother and father must be terminated. This allows those same rights to be agreed upon the adoptive parents. Furthermore, it prevents the birth parents from trying to exercise control over the child at a later time.
In some cases, the birth mother and father will agree to give up their legal rights. Moreover, making the process as simple as collecting their signatures on a legal document and filing it with the court. Other times, obtaining a termination of parental rights can be a difficult job for the adoptive parents and the Adoption Lawyers.
When termination of the birth parents’ rights is contested, the matter must be heard before the family law court. Both natural parents must be given due notice of the hearing and an opportunity to object. The adoptive parents must present “clear and convincing” evidence that the birth parents are unfit to care for the child.
Evidence presented at a hearing will usually show the birth parents’ lack of interest in the child’s well-being, their failure to pay child support, and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse.
Houston adoption lawyers may be helpful in determining the best type of evidence to use in a particular case. The goal is to prove to the judge that ending parental rights and approving the adoption paperwork is in the child’s best interests.
Houston Adoption Process: Open vs. Closed Adoptions
A common adoption question concerns who will have the right to have contact with the child once the adoption is final. The answer is that, just like natural parents, the adoptive parents will have complete rights to decide the matter. In an open adoption, the adoptive parents allow the child to have some degree of contact with birth parents. Furthermore, they can have contact with the previous foster families. Also, from other individuals from the child’s life before the adoption. Also, closed adoptions do not have this requirement.
Furthermore, in the United States, there is a clear trend toward open adoptions. But of course, there may be concerns about the birth parents that make a closed adoption the appropriate choice.
Houston Adoption Attorneys Discuss Adoption by a Step-Parent
Marriage can involve more than the union of two adults. When one of the spouses has children from a previous relationship, the marriage creates a new family, and the other spouse may come to love and care for the children as though they were his or her own. However, the law does not treat stepparent and natural parent relationships equally. The birth parent from the previous relationship still has the same legal rights as existed before the marriage. Stepparent adoption is a way to remedy this situation.
Besides reflecting the love a step-parent feels toward a child, adoption offers practical advantages to the entire family. Laws prevent a birth parent from randomly appearing in the future and causing a disruption for the step-parents.
Should the natural parent unexpectedly pass away or become disabled, the adoption will ensure that the stepparent can retain custody.
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