Adoption And Parental Termination In Texas
Terminating parental rights and adoption can be a difficult decision and a daunting legal process.
Adopting a child happens in two steps: terminating parental rights of the biological parents and then the actual adoption.
To adopt a child, you must first terminate the parental rights of the biological parents. Terminating the parental rights can be done one of two ways: Voluntarily or involuntarily. A biological parent can voluntarily terminate his or her rights by signing an affidavit of relinquishment. While both voluntarily and involuntarily terminating parental rights involve a trial, voluntary termination is just a matter of presenting the affidavit to the court and asking a few questions, whereas involuntary termination requires a full-trial whereby you must prove at least one of the statutory reasons for terminating parental rights with the appropriate evidence. The parental rights termination is the difficult part of adoption.
The second step, adoption, requires specific activities to occur. In some cases, you have to check the adoption registry to assure no father is out there trying to find the child in question. You also must gain an order from the Court to get a social study completed on the adoptive parents home. The social study has to be completed before the adoption occurs. Depending on the situation and the jurisdiction, the judge may appoint an amicus who will report to the court what he or she believes to be in the child's best interest.
Pursuant to the Texas Family Code, you can either complete the termination and adoption at the same time in one trial or you can terminate the rights to the parents in one trial and complete the adoption at a later date, not too far down the road from the termination. Most jurisdictions have a preferred method. Many jurisdictions like to do both at the same time to avoid a situation where a child is legally parentless for any long period of time.
Terminating parental rights is a very serious action that should not be taken lightly and which the courts certainly take seriously. As a result judges are extremely careful to assure everything is done by the book - no holes in the process. If you show up for a final trial and something in the process is missing, the judge will send you back and not allow the termination or termination and adoption trial to happen.
Termination/Adoptions have many technical pitfalls in that if you do not dot all your "i"s and cross all your "t"s, a judge will not allow you to complete the adoption. It is a daunting process that must be done in a very specific way. An experienced Texas family law attorney can help you successfully navigate the waters of a termination and adoption.
A Decker Law Firm experienced family law lawyer is ready to represent you in a termination and/or adoption whether it is a step-parent adoption, the result of the death of both parents, a decision to terminate parental rights, or incarceration of one or both parents.
Because every legal matter is unique, please contact us for an initial consultation to help ensure you have the information you need to make the appropriate decisions for your specific circumstances.