Your adoption attorneys and paralegals are committed to bringing parents and children together in a compassionate, cost-effective, and legally solid manner. Courts, agencies, and attorneys throughout Utah and elsewhere trust our approach and expertise as we work together to address every kind of adoption issue, including contests adoptions, Indian child, and foreign adoptions. Electing Adoption in Utah is just one of the ways couples can choose to build or expand their family. The process of adoption can be difficult to navigate alone.
Individuals and couples who desire to adopt should understand the Utah adoption laws and how they may affect their decision in the adoption process. Some individuals and couples may be prohibited from adopting a minor child. The Utah adoption laws prevent some single adults, married couples, non-married couples, and same sex couples from adopting.
What Are The Ground-Level Requirements For Adoption?
In order to qualify for adoption, you must be legally married. Stepparents qualify. Single people cannot adopt according to Utah adoption law. The adopted child has to be 10 or more years younger than their adoptive parents. However, both parents do not need to meet this qualification. As long as one parent in the marriage is 10+ years older than the child, that meets the requirement. In order for a married couple to adopt, both of them need to consent. A married person may not adopt a child if they do not have the consent of their spouse. If the married couple is legally separated but not divorced, a spouse wishing to adopt does not need spousal consent.
How Do You Pay For Your Adoption Expenses?
All your expenses related to adoption are considered an act of charity. They must be reasonably and clearly related to the adoption. Dollar amounts must also be deemed reasonable. Such as if money is being used to pay for the adoption expenses of the biological parents. What constitutes a reasonable expense? They need to be adoption-related in the form of living expenses, travel, counseling, maternity, medical, or legal expenses. All adoption expenses must be formally reported by the adoptive parents. This has to be done before the final adoption decree is submitted. This report must include all property, gifts, expenses, fees, etc. Anything of value that was received or given relating to the adoption.
How Do You Become A Foster Parent?
If your goal is to become a foster parent, you have to be 21 or older. There’s also a licensing, assessment, and training process you have to complete
How Do You Accomplish An International Adoption?
Your adoption order can still be registered in Utah even it’s an international one. If you want, you can combine a name change petition with a petition for registration of a foreign adoption order. The state registrar will file the birth certificate and the adoption order. Sometimes, a child’s birth place and birth date cannot be verified. In this case, you can further establish these facts by petitioning for a court order. An adoption attorney St George Utah can help you with this.
Any party helping you must have a valid license in order to do so. By party we mean organizations like children’s group homes, associations, corporations, agencies, or persons. Without a valid license, no advertising or facilitators can be used to solicit money, place a child, or provide any other assistance. However, as long as they aren’t compensated in any way for their assistance, physicians, attorneys, and other people can help. They can help find potential adoption parents. But there are certain things that anyone who helps you is NOT allowed to do:
• Advertise on social media that they can provide child-placing help to people
• Advertise on signage of any kind that they can provide child-placing services. That includes cards and devices.
• Advertise on the outside of buildings, street poles, etc. that they can provide child-placing services.
You get the idea. And remember, anyone who helps you cannot receive monetary compensation. Or be rewarded anything of monetary value. It’s illegal.
How Do Birth Parents Consent To An Adoption?
24 hours after giving birth, the birth mother may give adoption consent. Not before. A judge with proper jurisdiction must sign the consent. In some cases, the judge may appoint another person to take consent. If an agency is granted legal custody by the judge, they may authorize the birth mother’s consent.
Is The Birth Mother The Only Person Required To Consent?
Sometimes, yes. But not in every case. When applicable, here are other people who are required to give consent to legally validate the adoption.
• If the birth mother is legally married, the spouse must consent.
• If the child is 12 or older (and they have full mental capacity), they must consent.
• If, before the birth mother consented to adoption, a man filed a voluntary declaration of paternity, he must consent.
• If, before the birth mother consented to adoption, a man was declared by a judge as the biological father, he must consent.
• If the birth mother intends to have the child adopted by the unmarried biological father, he must consent. He must also:
a. initiate paternity proceedings
b. acknowledge his paternity
c. agree to develop a substantial relationship with the child d. agree to provide support to the child
More Concerning Unmarried Biological Fathers
• If the child’s birth was the result of a sexual offense, his consent is not required.
• If he fails to initiate paternity proceedings, his consent is not required.
• If his declaration of paternity is revoked, his consent is not required.
• It is possible for an interested party to petition that the unmarried biological father’s rights be terminated. If the court agrees, his consent is not required.
Can There Be A Situation Where Parental Consent Is Not Needed?
There are other possible scenarios where parental rights could be previously terminated. In these cases, a teen does not need parental consent to be adopted.
Can The Consent of Birth Parents Become Irrevocable?
Yes. Once it’s signed, it’s irrevocable. A birth mother cannot undo her signed consent.
What Adoption Rights Does An Unmarried Father Have?
Unmarried fathers can file a notice to be notified of adoption proceedings. They must do this through the Office of Vital Records. However, if another man is already adjudicated to be the father, the unmarried father cannot file this notice. Not through an adoption attorney St George Utah or anyone else. If a man declares himself to be the father after adoption consent has already been signed and executed, he cannot petition a declaration of paternity. If they adoption consent has not yet been signed, he can.
What Does The Home Study Process In Utah Entail?
It entails a criminal records check for every state you’ve lived it in the last 5 years. This is to ensure that you have none of the following in your background:
• child abuse
• child neglect
• child dependence
You’ll also be fingerprinted and undergo assessments concerning your biographical information. Some of the things assessed include:
• behavior assessment
• financial and health status verification
• home safety assessment
• parenting skills assessment
• verification that you and your spouse are legally married
• assessment to determine the type of child best suited for you and your household
Does The Home Study Process Include People Other Than You And Your Spouse?
Yes. If you have other adults living in the home, the home study process applies to them as well.
Who Conducts The Home Study?
A family relations expert approved by the court. The person can also be a court-approved expert in family counseling, psychology, family therapy, marriage, or social work. If the child has special needs, the person conducting the home study will be sent from one of two places:
• a child-placing agency
• Department of Human Services
This is because a special needs child being adopted is usually part of a public child welfare agency.
Can A Home Study Be Refused?
Yes. Home studies are not approved in every case. In almost all cases where it isn’t, it’s usually because the person has a felony constituting one of the following:
• domestic violence
• aggravated robbery, burglary, arson, assault
• a sex offense
• child abuse homicide
• child endangerment
• disabled child abuse or neglect
• domestic violence in the presence of a child
• child abuse
• drug-related offense
What Is A Post-Placement Study And What Are The Requirements?
It’s an evaluation that happens after the home study and after the final adoption hearing has taken place. The purpose is to provide a final determination that the placement is or isn’t in the best interest of the child. If there are any allegations in the adoption petition, the post-placement study verifies these as well. An adoption attorney St George Utah can assist in this process. An official child and family plan will be developed as part of this study. The child and their adoptive parents will be supervised for the first 6 or more months.
Are Home Studies Different When Relatives Or Stepparents Are Adopting?
In these cases, home studies aren’t required. But in some cases, the court requests that a home study still be conducted.
Are Home Studies Different During Interstate Adoptions?
If the child being adopted is in located in a different state, home studies are required as usual. In these cases, the studies must comply with whatever the ICPC states. (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children).
Terms to Know
• Birth parent – The genetic mother or father of a child
• Confidential adoption – An adoption in which the birth parents and adoptive parents never meet or exchange identifying information; also called a closed adoption
• Foster parent – An adult who acts as a parent or guardian without legally adopting the child
• Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption – An international treaty that governs how prospective adoptive parents can legally adopt children from other countries
• Home study – A study of a prospective adoptive parent’s home in order to determine the household’s ability to properly care for and nurture an adopted child
• Open adoption – An adoption in which the birth parents and the adoptive parents have contact with each other before and/or after the adoption becomes final; also called a cooperative adoption
• Termination of parental rights – A legal process that permanently terminates a parent’s rights to care for his or her child
• There are many different types of adoptions, each with their own requirements. Many prospective parents quickly become overwhelmed with each of the avenues of adoption and confused about which ones they qualify for. Hiring a lawyer familiar with each type of adoption can help you sort out which method is best for you.
• Adoption is not only for children. Many states allow adult adoption, where an adult legally adopts a younger adult as his or her child. Some senior citizens also do this in order to secure inheritance rights for a particular individual with whom they have had a long-term relationship.
• In addition to familial benefits, adoption can also affect adoptive parents’ tax returns. Adoptive parents may qualify for special tax credits to help pay for the cost of caring for a new child. That said, it may also trigger child support payments in the event of a divorce. Some adoptive parents may also want seek legal help from a tax attorney in addition to an adoption attorney to ensure that all of their legal issues are properly handled.
• If you are facing a legal issue related to adoption, contact an adoption lawyer immediately to ensure that your rights are protected and to explore your legal options.
The adoption process is guided by laws and regulations from start to finish. There are state and federal laws that apply for adoptive families and prospective birth mothers. This means not only conducting the adoption in the proper way, but also filling out mountains of paperwork and filing it with the right department at the right time. The role of adoption attorneys in the process, ideally, is to step into the complicated legal matters that the staff of your adoption agency may not be equipped to handle. In this role, the adoption lawyer is an important part of the adoption but is not the primary professional involved in the process. However, in your research of adoption, you may also hear about adoption lawyers playing a different role. Some families, in an attempt to lower adoption costs and simplify the process, decide to use a private adoption attorney as if they were an adoption agency. In these cases, an adoption lawyer leads the whole process. This type of arrangement is generally referred to as an independent adoption.
Advantages of Adoption Law Firms:
• Provide crucial legal services: The main benefit of adoption law firms is the safe and solid legal work they provide, which makes the adoption more secure. This advantage is seen when adoption attorneys handle the legal side of adoption that they specialize in. In this capacity, an adoption attorney is required in every adoption, regardless of the other professionals (such as adoption agencies) involved.
• Can complete identified adoptions: If a family has already located a potential birth mother to adopt from (such as a pregnant friend or family member), an adoption attorney may be the only professional they need to complete the process, which can be more cost effective than working with an agency.
These disadvantages are not meant to put down adoption attorneys or be overly critical of their work. Rather, it is simply an issue of working with adoption attorneys in the proper context. They play a vital role in the adoption process. Really, it couldn’t happen without adoption lawyers. However, most are not equipped to fulfil obligations of the adoption process outside of that role. Families who decide to adopt solely through a lawyer for adoption typically run into a variety of issues that wouldn’t be present when working with a full-service adoption agency.
These are issues like:
• Lack of advertising: An important part of the adoption process is finding adoption opportunities for hopeful parents. This means reaching out to prospective birth mothers with family profiles through a process called adoption advertising. While adoption agencies typically have processes and staff members dedicated to this kind of advertising, adoption attorneys do not. Because of this, a family may feel the need to try to advertise by themselves, which is problematic. In some states, it is illegal for families to advertise on their own. When it is illegal, it can be costly and ineffective. For perspective, the largest national agencies carefully track marketing success and have major networking contacts, but still spend an average of $8,000 to $10,000 in advertising for each successful adoption. A family can expect to potentially pay more in advertising through an adoption law firm, especially if the ad is placed on your own.
• Longer wait times: On top of increased expenses and lower efficiency, this can also lead to longer wait times and less opportunity for a successful adoption placement. This is not necessarily because adoption attorneys lack skill. Rather, it is because this part of the adoption process is not something most are fully equipped to handle.
• Unpredictable costs: The total cost of adoption can fluctuate drastically with an adoption law firm. Many lawyers specializing in adoption bill hourly, meaning the adoption can become more expensive the longer it stretches out. Alternatively, some adoption agencies offer fixed fees so that the cost will not steadily increase with the length of the process.
• Less support for potential birth parents: Trained and licensed social workers are vital to successful adoptions. Sometimes, families get frustrated with adoption law firms because they lack a social service department skilled in evaluating, educating and guiding prospective birth mothers through the adoption process. As a result, families can end up in an adoption opportunity with birth mothers who aren’t strongly committed to adoption, aren’t emotionally prepared or don’t understand the process, which can result in an adoption disruption.
• Less availability: Availability with adoption lawyers and adoption law firms can be limited. This can be because most adoption attorneys are working on a handful of cases at once, but also because adoption law firms do not have the staff to answer calls or respond to questions after work hours. As any family will quickly find, the needs of an adoption don’t always come up between 8am to 5pm, and having someone who answers the phone is important.
Adoption Law Firm Free Consultation
When you need legal help from an Adoption Law Firm, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506