Houston Adoption Attorneys
Welcoming a new member into the family via adoption is an exciting time. However, the adoption process can be challenging and confusing. The Ramos Law Group can pair you with a family law & adoption attorney to help you and your family members with the legal adoptions of both children and adults.
Our adoption lawyers in Houston focus on stepparent adoptions and adoption cases where the child has been previously placed with a prospective adoptive parent, either by Child Protective Services or via a family member, for an extended period of time. We will provide you with any information necessary to determine if you meet the Texas Family Code requirements for adoption and help you formalize your new family structure.
What is Adoption?
An adoption is a legal arrangement where parental rights are transferred from the natural or birth parents to the adoptive parents. The legal challenges involved make an adoption attorney essential throughout this process. The adoptive parents then become legally responsible for the child they adopt and they obtain all legal parental rights in regards to the child, as if the child were biologically born to them.
Adoption Law Basics
For any sort of adoption to occur, a biological parent must terminate their rights through voluntary relinquishment or termination by the State due to abandonment, abuse/neglect, or being deemed as an unfit parent. The exact requirements can vary from state to state. Your local adoption attorney in Houston can further explain any questions you may have about these requirements.
Termination of parental rights is taken very seriously by the Courts, so there must be good cause for a parent’s rights to be terminated or relinquished if the termination is not voluntary.
Frequently, the legal proceedings for both the adoption and the termination may be combined into one legal case. The Court then must make two determinations: first, that it is in the best interest of the child that a parent’s rights be terminated and second, that it is in the child’s best interest that the adoption be granted.
Requirements for an Adoption
Before an adoption may be granted, your adoption lawyer must ensure that certain requirements are met:
- The child must have lived with the proposed adoptive parent for at least six months before an adoption can be finalized.
- A child over the age of 12 must consent to the adoption.
- A stepparent adoption requires that the married couple must both participate in filing the petition for adoption.
- The prospective parents must provide a copy of their criminal records to the court.
- A home study must also be completed before a judge can approve an adoption.
Only once all of these requirements have been satisfied may your Houston adoption lawyer move forward to finalize your adoption. It is critical to hire an attorney familiar with adoptions to make sure that every requirement is completed. It is critical to find a lawyer familiar with the laws in which you intend to adopt. With a local adoption attorney, Houston requirements will be easier to complete. As a last step of the adoption process, your family may change the child’s last name to reflect that of the adoptive parent or family.
Once the adoption is complete, Texas law no longer recognizes the adoptive parent as a stepparent; the adoptive parent now has all the duties, rights, and obligations to the child as the biological parent.
What is the Adoption Process in Houston, Texas?
The adoption process in Texas consists of the following:
- Pre-Adoptive Home Study: As your adoption attorney will explain to you, this is a report prepared by a licensed social worker with experience specific to adoption studies. The information collected during a home study helps the Court decide whether an adoption is in the best interest of the child. This process is a very detailed review of the adoptive parents and includes the following:
- Interview of adoptive parents
- Verification of legal documents
- Letters of reference from friends and family
- Confirmation of financial status
- Criminal history check
- Child abuse check
- Termination of Parental Rights: Before a child can be adopted, one, or both, of biological parent’s rights must be terminated. In Texas, this can be done voluntarily or involuntarily under certain circumstances. With guidance from your adoption attorney, Houston law will become easier to navigate.
- Final Adoption: Once a termination has been completed and other requirements have been met, a judge will hear the final case and approve an adoption.
- In Harris County adoptions, most Courts require a pre-trial conference to ensure that all of the paperwork has been correctly completed prior to bringing the child to finalize the adoption.
- In most Houston area adoptions, an amicus or ad litem attorney must be appointed to insure that the adoption is in the best interest of the child.
What is a Stepparent Adoption?
The most common form of adoption in the state of Texas, and the type that your Houston adoption lawyer will likely have the most experience with, is a stepparent adoption. A stepparent adoption of a stepchild creates a permanent and legal parent-child relationship; in the eyes of the law it is as if the stepparent is a biological parent. Even if the stepparent and biological parent were to be divorced, the parent-child relationship would survive between the stepparent and the child.
Work with Ramos Law Group
Need experienced Adoption Lawyers? Contact Ramos Law Group today and you’ll be one step closer to finding an adoption attorney in Houston you can count on.