What Happens to Adoption During Divorce?

Have couples pursued adoption during divorce? Yes, it has happened that during the process of adopting a child, a couple decides that their marriage is irreconcilable and file for divorce. You might assume that divorce signals the end of adoption. In some cases it may, but not in all cases. Texas Family Code on Adoption During Divorce The Texas Family Code states that if the couple petitioning for adoption divorce, the court abates the suit for adoption and dismisses the petition. The exception is when one of the original petitioners amends the petition. An example would be that the wife still wants to adopt the child and has her attorney amend the petition so that just she is requesting to adopt the child. Different Types of Adoption Situations During any adoption, if the biological parents are still living, the court must terminate their paternal rights before adoption can occur. In a consensual adoption, they agree to relinquish their rights. Sometimes a biological parent agrees to have a couple adopt the child but divorce changes that decision. If the parent had not yet relinquished parental rights, the parent could decide to not go through with the adoption. When parents’ rights have already been terminated due to a foster care situation, then the parents don’t have the right to contest adoption. When a couple decides to divorce and one parent petitions to continue adoption it’s up to the court to decide. Courts rule based on the child’s best interests and can dismiss adoption proceedings if it’s not best for the child. Stepparents often adopt their spouse’s children. However, courts require that the...

Did You Know There Is a National Adoption Awareness Month?

In fact, in the United States, not only do we have a month dedicated to recognizing adoptions, we also have an adoption week and an adoption day. The month of November is Adoption Awareness Month in the United States. November 21 is National Adoption Day and National Adoption Week takes place from November 19 through November 25. The history of National Adoption Awareness began as follows: In 1976, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis established Adoption Week as a way of promoting awareness of the need for families to adopt children in foster care. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan established National Adoption Week. In his proclamation he said, “At a time when many fear that the family is in decline, it is fitting that we give special recognition to those who are rebuilding families by promoting adoption.” In 1995, President Bill Clinton expanded National Adoption Week to National Adoption Awareness Month. In his proclamation, President Clinton said, “For many people across the United States, adoption provides a means for building and strengthening families…As we observe National Adoption Month, we celebrate these achievements and recognize the rewards of adoption…” In 1998, President Clinton directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a plan to expand the use of the internet as a tool for finding homes for children in foster care who were waiting to be adopted. In 2008, President George W. Bush provided an explanation of National Adoption Awareness Month in Spanish. Adoption is a way to bring a positive change into the lives of children and couples. If you’re considering adoption, our attorneys at C.E. Borman & Associates are...

Domestic or International Adoption?

When you want to adopt, you have the option of a domestic adoption — adopting a U.S. born child — or an international adoption — adopting a child born in a foreign country. International Adoption The Wall Street Journal reported that international adoptions have dropped from approximately 23,000 in 2004 to 6,441 adoptions in 2014. Several reasons exist for the drop. Since 2012, Americans have been unable to adopt children from Russia, which used to be a major source for adoptions. Also, adoptions from China (which remains the most popular country for adoptions) dropped from close to 8,000 adoptions in 2005 to 2,040 adoptions in 2014. Adoption agencies attribute the drops to increased U.S. scrutiny of some countries in individual cases, a nationalist perspective against adoption in emerging countries like China and South Korea and U.S. policies that stiffly regulate against child trafficking. The United States ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption in 2008, thinking it would facilitate adoptions, but agencies say the opposite has occurred. Other challenges people face with international adoptions include: Needing to obtain visas so they can travel to the foreign country Travel involving visits up to two weeks and often multiple visits Handling the foreign country’s issues that deal with adoption Adoption in China possibly taking more than four years Agreeing to adoption of older children instead of infants Scarcity of medical or social history for some children Domestic Adoptions In most domestic adoptions, parents are able to adopt infants or young children. The costs involved with international and domestic adoptions, while different, are comparable. Domestic adoptions require a social study (interviews and evaluations)...

Some Adoptions Involve More Legal Challenges than Others

When the biological father gives up his parental rights to a child before birth and the mother arranges for adoption, you would think the case is clear-cut. In most cases no legal hurdles exist. However, here is an adoption case that dragged on for four years, going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and back down to lower courts again. The adoptive parents never foresaw they were in for this degree of a legal battle. The name of the case was Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. The biological father Dustin Brown was a registered member of the Cherokee Nation. Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) to prevent the abusive practice of separating Indian children from their tribal communities and placing them in non-Indian homes. ICWA is a federal law that prevents parental rights termination unless the court determines the child will experience serious harm from the parents’ continued child custody. This case was unusual because the birth mother and Indian father ended their relationship, and the father agreed to give up his rights prior to the child’s birth. Consequently, he never had child custody. The adoptive couple were non-Indian and lived in South Carolina. They arranged adoption through a private adoption agency and when they served the father with notice of adoption about four months after the little girl was born, he sought custody. He said he didn’t consent to the adoption. The little girl was two years old by the time the case went to trial in the South Carolina Family Court, which handed the little girl over to her father. The...

You Want to Adopt, But How Can You Afford It?

Many couples who are unable to have children would like to adopt, but are discouraged by the expenses involved. Common misconceptions about adoption are that the costs are always exorbitant. Some ways of adopting are less expensive than others. Government statistics show that costs range generally from between $5,000 to $25,000 for child adoption. However, if you adopt a child in foster care and are working with a public social services agency, sometimes there is no cost at all. In addition, some public agencies provide adoption subsidies. Adopting a child is usually less expensive than adopting an infant. More good news is there is an adoption tax credit that can make adoption more affordable and offset expenses. When Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the act established an Adoption Tax Credit. This tax credit has now become a permanent part of the IRS code. Adoption typically involves the following expenses, which are qualified expenses for the tax credit: Reasonable and necessary adoption fees Court costs and attorney fees Traveling expenses Other expenses directly related to legal adoption The maximum adoption tax credit for 2015 is $13,400. Each year the tax credit amount is increased or decreased based on inflation (note: inflation usually increases the tax credit). Your tax credit counts for each child if you adopt twins or triplets. As long as your 2014 modified adjusted gross income was less than $197,880, your maximum adoption tax credit remains at $13,400 and is not reduced or eliminated. While adoption is exciting, you are bound to have legal questions and should consult with an experienced family law attorney....