Getting An Attorney For An In-Family Adoption
It's more common than some people think. Stepparents may want to adopt their stepchildren, or a sibling may need to formally adopt another sibling's child. In the case of a family death, children may need to be adopted by more distant family members. But though these relationships often start informally, they need to be formally legalized.
Why Do You Need a Formal Adoption?
A formal adoption makes the adopter the legal parent of the child, while suspending the rights of the child's former parent. Until a formal adoption is established, the former parent maintains rights to their child. Unless guardianship has been established (which is often temporary), the parent may take custody of the child back at any time.
Further, only a legal parent has some rights, such as the right to know about the child's medical care and the right to information from the child's school. If a non-custodial individual is taking care of a child, they are going to need the legal parent's permission for many things. This can introduce many practical issues, as well as emergency issues, such as not being able to get necessary medical care.
How Can You Adopt a Child?
An in-family adoption works the same way as any other adoption: the current parent must agree to give up their parental rights, and then the new parent will take these rights on. A child cannot have no parent: it's not possible for the current parent to give up parental rights without another parent to take them. They have to be transferred.
However, barring very unusual circumstances, it usually isn't possible to force someone to give up their parental rights. They will be asked to relinquish their rights willingly.
Why Should You Have an Attorney?
In-family adoptions often occur informally, such as with grandparents taking in grandchildren. But for the reasons outlined above, a formal adoption is necessary. An attorney is able to walk a family through the complex legal process of adoption, which has to be handled correctly to avoid issues later on.
A consultation with a family attorney is often free and will give you more information about whether you should invest in one, and whether your situation is right for legal adoption. For some, a temporary legal guardianship or a power of attorney will be enough—but even so, these documents need to be drafted by a legal expert for protection.
For more information, contact a family attorney today.