Adoption Protecting Your Family

Clarksville, TN Adoption Lawyers

Legal Counsel for Adoption

If you are considering adoption, let us be the first to commend you on the selfless decision to open your homes and lives to a child who needs it. While adoption can be an exciting time in parents' lives, we understand that the process itself may not be so exhilarating.

As experienced Clarksville family law attorneys, we often encounter couples who are understandably frustrated, worried and, quite frankly, fed up with the long and exhausting legal work involved in adoption cases. We have heard numerous complaints from parents forced to jump through legal hoops about the complicated and dense paperwork that seems to never end and the tiresome legal procedures and complications that can often arise.

The Adoption Process in Tennessee

The adoption process varies significantly from case to case and depends on a variety of elements. In the simplest terms, the legal process of adoption means that a person assumes the parenting of a child for another. This means there is also a permanent transfer of all rights and responsibilities from the original parent to the adoptive parent.

In the state of Tennessee, adoption procedures are governed by Tennessee Code §36-1-101. The laws can be lengthy and dense, but were established primarily to ensure that the best interests of the child are met, as well as to protect the rights of adoptive parents.

Adoption is a serious situation, and the federal and state legal systems go to great lengths to ensure that children in need will be taken into homes that are capable of providing care and love. There are numerous agencies and methods for the adoption process and it can't be stressed enough that there is no one size fits all or universal formula when it comes to adopting a child.

Although circumstances dictate much of what happens during the adoption process, you can expect requirements of passing multiple home studies, a great deal of legal and financial paperwork, background checks and final approval from the state itself.

Why Use an Adoption Lawyer?

There is no other way around it; the adoption process can be complicated. Perhaps the lengthy legal proceedings, convoluted paperwork, red tape and other headache inducing obstacles are a good thing, or at the very least, understandable. The tiresome process and many frustrations might weed out parents who aren't 100% positive about adopting and caring for a child or they may prevent couples who are otherwise unfit from adopting. In either case, it's not easy.

We want to encourage all prospective parents planning to adopt a child to hang in there as well as let them know that our firm is here to help. Though adoption can seem overwhelming, especially in the beginning, our firm can provide you with the necessary information and legal assistance to help your adoption process run smoothly. In the event that your adoption involves the adoption of stepchildren or relatives, our firm is prepared to do whatever is necessary to expedite proceedings and allow you and your family to begin your new lives.

Stepparent Adoption in TN

Blended families have become the norm and stepparents often don't take the legal steps necessary to have any rights to make decisions for the child, especially if the child has a good relationship with his/her noncustodial parent. However, if the other biological parent is absent or a danger to the child and a close bond has been formed between the stepparent and the child, then stepparent adoption is a pathway to obtain a biological parent’s legal rights and responsibilities regarding medical, educational, and religious decisions on behalf of the child.

The following are the general steps to adopting a stepchild in Tennessee:

  1. Noncustodial parent must relinquish his/her parental rights – Either the noncustodial parent must voluntarily give up his/her parental rights or the court terminates his/her legal rights. If the noncustodial parent voluntarily relinquishes his/her parental rights, the agreement – which is attached to the petition – must be written and notarized. If not, then you must file a petition, claiming the stepparent should obtain parental rights because the noncustodial parent either abandoned the child, hasn’t visited the child, owes at least four-months' worth amount of child support, or is otherwise a danger to the child.

  1. Stepparent must take a class – The adopting stepparent is required to attend a 30-hour course provided by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, called Parents as Tender Healers (PATH). Fortunately, since a stepparent adoption is considered a “relative adoption,” the courts will waive the home study requirement since the stepparents has already provided care for the child for some period of time.

  1. Attend adoption hearing – Once all the previous steps have been fulfilled, the court schedules a hearing to approve the adoption. If the noncustodial parent voluntarily relinquishes his/her parental rights, the adoption order will be issued, along with a new birth certificate. If not, both parties can present evidence and their case for parental rights, then the judge will determine whether to terminate the noncustodial parent’s rights.

Stepparent adoption can be a complex legal process, which is why need an experienced family lawyer to protect your rights and best interests. Jeff Grimes & Associates, PLLC can help you get the most favorable result possible.

Call Jeff Grimes & Associates, PLLC for Caring Representation

No matter the organization or method you choose to use when adopting, or if you are unsure of how to begin the adoption process, our firm can help you every step of the way. By working with a family law attorney from our firm you will get the sincere and compassionate legal assistance to get you through the adoption process smoothly.

Our experience and personal attention can also help quickly resolve any conflicts that may arise. Adoption is a beautiful thing and it should be a happy time for parents. Allow our firm to make your adoption a success. Contact the firm today.

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