How Lawyers Assist with Adoption
Adoption makes it possible to expand your family circle. Many singles and couples rely on adoption to become parents when they struggle to have children through other avenues. For other families, adoption makes legal and permanent new parent-child relationships established by marriage.
An adoption legally changes the adopted child’s parents. Consequently, adoptive parents often need assistance from lawyers to complete the process. If you’re considering adoption in any form, you may wonder how your lawyer contributes. Below we’ve listed several common adoption scenarios and how lawyers assist with that type of adoption.
Existing Family Relationship Adoptions
Let’s look at instances when adults may adopt children they’re related to by marriage or genetics.
When people who have children from previous relationships marry, one or both spouses may seek to adopt the other’s children. The adoption makes the stepparent a full, legal parent to any adopted children.
Before a stepparent can adopt any stepchildren, the child’s other biological parent must either agree to relinquish his or her parental rights or those rights can be terminated. Lawyers often assist parents in proving that an absent biological parent has abandoned the child, thereby forfeiting parental rights. Lack of contact and financial support help establish this. Lawyers may also be able to prove that termination of parental rights is necessary because the other parent is unfit or has neglected the child. Lawyers can also assist in proving that the adoption is in the child’s best interest. Finally, a lawyer can assist in modifying the child’s birth certificate to reflect the new parent and possibly change the child’s name.
Sometimes a non-parent relative seeks to adopt a child. Relatives involved in these adoptions usually include grandparents, aunts, uncles, or older siblings. Children usually benefit from these adoptions because they have a prior relationship with the potential adoptive parent. These adoptions tend to occur when biological parents die or cannot provide adequate care for other reasons.
A lawyer’s role in a relative adoption is similar to his or her role in a step-parent adoption. The lawyer helps the relative prove they are fit to parent the child. Lawyers may also need to terminate the parental rights of one or both parents. The court considers the best interests of the child before making a decision.
Infant or Child Adoptions
Single people or married couples often adopt to become parents for the first time or after having biological children. They may do this by adopting children who have no previous relationship to them. The following adoption types apply to this basic scenario.
Domestic refers to the fact that these adoptions occur within the United States. These adoptions can happen entirely within a state’s borders or involve birth and adoptive parents in several states.
In domestic adoptions, lawyers assist mainly with finalizing the adoption. They may help birth parents surrender their parental rights as well. Lawyers will draft all the legal documents needed to complete the adoption and can appear in court for the required hearing as well. They also help adoptive parents to modify child’s birth certificate to reflect the new parents and change the child’s name.
People from the United States often adopt children from outside the country. US and international adoption agencies usually take the lead on international adoptions. For example, they help adopted children obtain immigrant visas so they can move to the U.S. with their new parents. However, lawyers can offer advice to parents and finalize the adoption in the U.S.
Sometimes adoptive parents find an expectant birth mother without using an agency. Some states even allow parents to advertise their desire to adopt, but Nevada prohibits this.
However, it is still possible to complete an independent adoption in Nevada. Lawyers can advise parents about the risks and timelines associated with independent adoptions. Parents may also use lawyers to coordinate the logistics of this process.
For instance, Nevada law allows adoptive parents to pay for a birth mother’s medical and living expenses. If they do this, the birth mother has no legal obligation to place her child with them, so the action becomes one of charity rather than a contract. Parents might seek advice from a lawyer to ensure that they comply with related laws and monetary limits.
Special Adoption Cases
Many adoptions don’t occur with families that resemble the cookie-cutter 1950s family. Nevada laws make adoption possible for people in these situations, too.
Adoptions by unmarried couples
Adoptions involving unmarried couples often resemble stepparent adoptions or infant/child adoptions. One person in the relationship may legally adopt his or her partner’s child, or the couple may adopt a child together. Lawyers perform the same roles they would if the couple were married.
Like all other U.S. states, Nevada doesn’t require individuals to marry or participate in a committed relationship to adopt a child. Single people must simply meet the same character and financial stability standards as couples. Lawyers can help single adoptive parents find an agency that frequently works with single people as well as assisting in the final steps of adoption.
Adoptions by same-sex couples
Unlike some states that still restrict adoptions by same-sex couples, Nevada allows these couples to add children to their family through adoption. As with single adoptions, lawyers may help same-sex couples find adoption agencies that happily coordinate adoptions for these couples. Lawyers will then complete the required legal documentation, appear in court, and modify the birth certificate.
As the many adoption scenarios above make clear, adoption is complex. Still, no matter your situation, an adoption lawyer can help you add a new member, or several new members, to your family through adoption. Consult our adoption lawyers who are highly knowledgeable about adoptions to learn more. If you have other family law question don’t hesitate to contact our family law lawyers at Mills & Anderson Law Group.