fbpx

Adoption is a process by which a child is adopted and rights of one or both parents is terminated. Please refer to our blog post The Legal Challenges of Adoption for more information about adoption. Termination is a necessary component to the Texas adoption process.
The following individuals have standing to bring an adoption or termination suit:

  1. A stepparent of the child;
  2. An adult, who because of placement for adoption, has had actual possession and control of the child at any time during the 30 days prior to the filing of the petition;
  3. An adult, who has had actual possession of the child in two out of the three months prior to the filing of the petition;
  4. An adult who has adopted, or is the foster parent of and has petitioned to adopt a sibling of the child; or
  5. Another adult whom the court considers to have had enough substantial past contact with the child to create standing.

Substantial past contact does not have a statutory definition. To find substantial past contact, the court makes a fact-intensive inquiry, but there are no set standards for this aspect of the Texas adoption process.

Involuntary parental rights termination

Because termination of parental rights, even for adoption, is akin to the civil death penalty. A higher burden of proof is required for termination cases: clear and convincing evidence rather than the preponderance of the evidence. Thus, involuntary termination is complex. Additionally, a parent facing a termination suit has a right to a jury trial. Just like the death penalty in criminal cases, civil judges are reluctant to grant terminations except in cases of abuse and neglect. This is even true when a stepparent wishes to adopt the child and terminate one parent’s parental rights.

Voluntary parental rights terminations

If the termination of parental rights for adoption is voluntary, after a petition for termination is filed, the next step is to secure the Affidavit of Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights. This affidavit must be signed after the child’s birth and be witnessed by two credible persons. If a stepparent is adopting the child, during this part of the Texas adoption process, the stepparent can exercise the rights of a managing conservator. If this happens, the affidavit must include a statement acknowledging that the parent who is relinquishing their parental rights has been informed of their parental rights and voluntarily give the adoptive parent or parents all their parental rights and duties.

The affidavit must also state whether the relinquishment is revocable, irrevocable, or that is irrevocable for a stated period of time. If the affidavit does not state that it is irrevocable, it is revocable for a stated period of time.

A copy of the affidavit

An important and often overlooked procedural step of termination of parental rights for adoption is that when the affidavit is signed by the parent, he or she must be provided a copy of the affidavit. This can become an issue if the adoption later becomes contested, complicating the Texas adoption process. Also, the affidavit may not contain any terms for post-termination contact between the child and the parent whose parental rights have been relinquished as a condition for the relinquishment.

Consult with an adoption attorney

If you or a loved one is involved in an adoption or termination suit or would like to be involved in one, consider your options carefully and consult with the knowledgeable attorneys at Ramos Law Group, PLLC.

Adoption is one of the more delightful parts of Family Law. It is a beautiful process whereby a child is formally and officially made part of another loving family. For adoption to occur according to Texas adoption laws, at least one of the parents (such as in a step-parent adoption) or both must terminate their rights to that child. This is often best done with help from a Texas adoption lawyer.

Who can be adopted?

In Texas, any single or married adult can adopt a child whose parent-child relationship with one or both of their parents has been terminated. A termination suit can be handled separately or can be joined with an adoption suit by a Texas adoption lawyer. Parents, Legal Guardians, or Adoption Agencies can initiate adoptions; only these individuals may serve as an intermediary in adoption.

Who must be noticed in an adoption and termination?

A key issue for adoption and termination is notice. Legal parents, anyone with court-ordered access, or anyone you allege as a possible father in a petition has right to notice for a termination or adoption under Texas adoption law.

A waiver of citation may be signed prior to filing a termination or even before the child’s birth. The court may order termination if it finds that the parent has executed an unrevoked or irrevocable affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights. This affidavit may have come before or after the filing of the suit.

An affidavit of waiver of interest in a child may be signed prior to the child’s birth. A pre-birth filing of a termination petition, best supervised by a Texas adoption lawyer in a private adoption, requires a statement to confer standing by a pregnant woman or a parent of the child or the biological parent files the termination as the petitioner.

Is there a waiting period for a termination order to be entered?

There is a waiting period for termination with married birth parents. If the adoptive parents have completed a home study, a termination of parental rights can be entered anytime after 40 hours as long as the relinquishment is irrevocable for 60 days, or after 10 days if the relinquishment is revocable for 10 days. For unmarried birth parents, the termination order generally can be entered when the child is more than 31 days old and the adoptive parents have completed a home study; however, if paternity was adjudicated then the newly established father will relinquish under the same rules as married birth parents and the termination order will be entered with the same timeline as married birth parents. A Texas adoption lawyer can help to prepare the necessary termination process.

Must Texas accept another state’s adoption consent form?

One issue with Texas adoption law is whether Texas must accept an adoption consent form of another state if the birth parent delivers in another state and signs that state’s adoption consent. Full Faith and Credit of the United States Constitution requires Texas to accept any other state’s order, but it does not require that it accept the legal documents of another state, limiting the reach of a Texas adoption lawyer. The best course of action in such a scenario would be to hire a local attorney in the other state to make sure you are complying with the requirements. If possible, you should have the birth parents execute Texas documents and finalize the termination and adoption in Texas with the Texas adoptive parents.

How are inheritance rights changed for a newly adopted child?

Lastly, adoption does not change a child’s inheritance rights regarding the parent who relinquished his or her rights. It divests all other legal rights and duties between parent and child except for inheritance rights through the parent whose rights has been terminated. Furthermore, an adoption creates inheritance rights through the adoptive parents.

Thus, if you or a loved one is involved in an adoption or termination suit, or would like to be involved in one, consider your options carefully and consult with the knowledgeable attorneys at Ramos Law Group, PLLC. for an experienced Texas adoption lawyer.

Featured Image

While adopting a child is certainly an exciting process for everyone involved, it can also be quite intimidating. There are plenty of hoops to jump through and complicated steps to take. Attempting to adopt without professional assistance is extremely difficult, which is why having a lawyer in Houston, Texas is critical. You will need to make sure that you meet all of the rules of the Texas Family Code, prepare an extensive amount of documentation, and ready your case to present to a judge.

Your Legal Rights

Naturally, the first step is to make sure that you are familiar with what adoption is, what your legal responsibilities are, and what your role and title will be. You will be taking over as the child’s legal guardian, and the birth parents will no longer have rights to the child. You will have all legal rights, duties, and obligations to the child, as if you are the natural parent. Because this is a legal process, having an adoption lawyer in Houston, Texas is absolutely essential. The most common type of adoption in Texas is stepparent adoption, so that is most likely the role and title you can expect to fulfill.

How to adopt in Houston and What Are the Requirements?

In order to secure a positive environment for the child, there is a rigorous screening process required for all potential stepparents. A licensed social worker will conduct a home study, which will determine whether or not you and your home will provide a safe and acceptable environment for a child. Your adoption lawyer in Houston, Texas will help you to prepare for this screening process. You will need to have all of your legal paperwork and documentation verified. You, and your spouse if applicable, will be thoroughly interviewed by the social worker. They will run a criminal background check, along with another background check focused on any potential history of child abuse. You will need to prove that you are financially able to take care of the child. The social worker will also want letters of reference from family, friends, and loved ones.

Termination of Parental Rights

Before you are able to adopt a child, his or her biological parents must give up legal rights to the child. Depending on the circumstance, this can be done voluntarily, or the termination by be ordered by a judge. Your adoption lawyer in Houston, Texas will be able to assist you in proceeding according to your specific situation. Once one or both of the biological parents no longer have any legal rights to the child, you can move on to the finalizing the adoption.

Final Adoption Proceeding

At the final adoption hearing, a lawyer in Houston, Texas will help you to present your case and finalize the adoption. Once you have proven that you will make a suitable parent and that you have the child’s best interest in mind, the judge will make a decision. Prior to the final hearing, Harris County courts may require a pre-trial conference to make sure that everything is in order and that all necessary paperwork is ready to go. After all requirements have been met and a positive determination has been made, the adoption will be finalized.

Choose Ramos Law Group, PLLC

Don’t attempt to navigate the sometimes complicated Texas adoption process on your own. Ramos Family Law is experienced in adoption cases, focusing especially on stepparent adoptions. If you want exceptional legal assistance, call 713-225-6200. We are confident that we will be able to surpass all of your expectations. If you are ready to make this monumental decision, it is essential that you do it right. Take the first step by hiring Ramos Family Law for your adoption case.

Finalizing an adoption in Texas is one of the few joyous occasions in a family law courtroom.

Most of the family law judges in Harris County require a pretrial hearing prior to the final trial to ensure that all requirements have met and that the parents don’t show up the day of the adoption hearing only to be sent home disappointed. Once the pretrial hearing has been held and all necessary requirements have been completed, including a social study and background check of the adoptive parents, then all necessary parties will appear before the judge to finalize the adoption.

Necessary parties include the child, the adoptive parents, the attorney for the adoptive parents, the amicus attorney, an ad litem attorney if one was appointed as well as any potential government agency parties, such as caseworkers from CPS if applicable. Extended family such as siblings and grandparents are also encouraged to join in on this momentous occasion for a family.

The parties will go before the judge and testify as to the facts necessitating the adoption. The attorneys will question the adoptive parents as to their understanding that they are becoming the legal parents of a child and whether they believe the adoption is in the best interest of the child. Often times, age permitting, the child is allowed to speak to the judge and attorneys about their adoptive parents and desire to be adopted.

Once the attorneys have elicited the necessary testimony and the judge has reviewed all the relevant pleadings, the judge will sign an order granting the adoption and pronounce the child to legally belong to the adoptive parents. Often times a judge will allow the adopted child to bang the gavel or bestow a small toy or stuffed animal to the child. The family is also allowed to take pictures with the judge on the bench to memorialize the special day.

If you are contemplating legally adopting a child and would like to partake in an occasion as described above, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC and one of the competent family law attorneys can assist you with any adoption-related inquiries.

The recent adult adoption of a Florida businessman’s girlfriend in an attempt to protect assets from civil litigation has put the spotlight on the legal act of adopting an adult. The Texas Family Code, Section 162.501 specifically allows for the legal adoption of an adult by another adult.

Adult adoption differs little from the adoption from a minor, with the exception that an adult must consent to the adoption. The biological parents of the adoptee do not need to be notified of the adoption and are not entitled to notice of any adoption proceedings. An original petition for adoption must be filed with the court and a hearing will be held.

One of the most common reasons for a formal adult adoption is when a step-parent was unable to formally adopt a step-child while the child was underage due to a biological parent’s refusal to allow for the adoption to go forward.

The adoption of an adult creates a parent-child relationship in the eyes of the law. One of the legal ramifications of adult adoption is that the adopted adult may no longer inherit from their biological parents, but may only inherit from their adoptive parents, per Texas Family Code §162.507.

An adult adoption will not be granted by the court if it appears that the adoption is being sought to defraud creditors or avoid other legal obligations. It will also not be granted if the judge believes a party is being taken advantage of, such as if a party is disabled, elderly or under duress. Adult adoption can also not be used to receive benefits under U.S. immigration law.

If you are considering adopting an adult of if you are an adult who is considering consenting to being adopted, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC so that you may discuss the legalities and adoption process.

The termination of parental rights is referred to as the “civil death penalty” because there is nothing worse a Court can do to a person than to legally and permanently remove that person’s parental rights. Because of the severity of termination, it can be difficult to have one’s rights terminated. There must be good cause for a Court to legally remove a child’s parent from its life and there is a process to completing a termination suit.

There are two types of termination of parental rights: involuntary and voluntary. Involuntary termination occurs when the parent is not in agreement with the termination however their parental rights are still terminated because a Judge felt it was in the best interest of the child. Grounds for termination include neglect, abuse, or abandonment. Often involuntary termination is achieved due to the involvement of Child Protective Services and documented abuse or neglect. Texas Family Code §161.001 sets forth the grounds a Court may consider when deciding to terminate the rights of a parent.

This route to termination takes longer as it requires a hearing and a finding by the Judge or jury that termination is in the best interest of the child. Once an involuntary termination has been granted, that person is forever stripped of their rights to the child or children the subject of the termination suit.

Voluntary termination occurs when a parent voluntarily signs an Affidavit for Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights and agrees to the termination of his or her rights. This document must be notarized and filed with the court. Voluntary termination often coincides with a step-parent adoption because courts are not apt to grant a termination of parental rights unless there is another parent willing to step in and adopt the child.

Some people are under the impression that a parent can elect to terminate his or her rights and avoid having to pay child support. The Texas Family Code sets forth specific criteria for granting a termination and avoiding the obligation to pay support is not one of listed criteria. If a Court grants a termination of a biological parent’s rights, the former parent no longer has a future obligation to support the child. However, the termination does not absolve the former parent’s liability for any child support arrearage that accrued before the termination was granted and that person is still responsible for that debt.

It is very difficult to have the rights of your child’s other parent terminated simply because they aren’t around or aren’t paying child support. While your child’s mother may be an absentee mother or your child’s father may be $20,000 behind in child support, the Court is looking at what is in the best interest of the child and legally ending the relationship between a parent may not be in the best interest.

Termination of parental rights is a very serious matter. Whether you are a parent looking to have the other parent’s rights terminated or you are a parent fighting against the termination of your own rights, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC so that our experienced Houston attorneys can help you!

Disclaimer: The material obtained from this site is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice regarding your own legal situation.

Scroll to top