Nassau County Family Law Blog

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Adoption & Consent

Are you interested in adopting?  The adoption process can be lengthy and complicated, so it is advised to seek advice and guidance from alicensed family law attorney.  Depending on your state’s legal requirements, consent may be needed from a child or even from the birth or stepparents of a child in order for an adoption to be legally permitted.  However, the requirements may vary depending on your status, such as if you are single or married.  For example, if you plan to adopt and are married, your spouse may also be required to adopt the child.  Yet, there may be exceptions that an attorney can make you aware of.  For instance, there might not be a consent requirement for those who are legally separated. 

The court will also analyze and determine whether “abandonment, neglect, unfitness, or failure to pay child support” has terminated a parent’s rights, hence, negating the consent requirement.  This may absolve you from obtaining consent from another parent.  An attorney can inform you of the types of behavior that are associated with a showing for abandonment.  Typically, there may be a finding of abandonment if a “parent has continuously failed to provide child support or has abandoned the child for a length of time.” 

Likewise, a parent is “unfit if she or he is abusive, neglectful, fails to visit, has a mental disturbance, is addicted to drugs or alcohol, or is incarcerated.”  There may be other ways to prove the termination of parental rights, such as through a demonstration that the “presumed father” is not the legal father.  A parent may also voluntarily give up parental rights and responsibilities as well if he or she has no contact with the child. 

Adoption rules in New York now apply to same sex couples as well.  There are also situations where a minor could adopt another individual depending on his or her emancipation status, such as when a minor is married.  Depending on your state’s law, there may also be a specific requirement for permanent residency in order to be eligible to adopt—this may range from several months to a year.  Sometimes, even adults may be adopted if there is valid legal consent. 

The adoption process can become more intricate for stepparents and extended families, and situations where individuals are legally “incompetent.”  Thus, an attorney can help you remain aware of your rights and requirements.  It is likely that the court will require you to take part in visits at your home and hearings for adoption to inquire about your circumstances and behavior.  Furthermore, a legal adoption triggers certain inheritance rights under the law that you will need to be aware of.  Consult a licensed attorney to understand how you can begin the adoption process today. 

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