Virginia Beach Adoption Lawyer
While many areas of family law are challenging, contentious, and emotionally taxing, adoption can be a wonderful and exciting experience for couples looking to expand their family. Adoption creates a legal bond between a guardian and a non-biological child. Because adoption is a legal process, we at Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. highly recommend hiring an adoption attorney to help you understand federal and state laws and ensure that the adoption is successful.
The Virginia Beach adoption attorney of Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. has extensive experience helping Virginia families just like yours navigate the adoption process. Contact us today at (757) 962-5588 for a free consultation to discuss your options.
Why You Should Hire an Adoption Lawyer
There are numerous reasons why hiring an adoption lawyer is a good idea. The statutes surrounding adoption can be confusing to individuals without a legal background, and for the adoption to be a success, it must be carried out in accordance with the law.
A Virginia Beach adoption attorney from Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. can help you by:
- Properly filling out and submitting your paperwork
- Act as your representative at any required legal proceedings or appointments
- Explain state and federal laws related to adoption
- Help facilitate independent adoptions, in which the birth parent directly chooses the adoptive family
- Help you obtain the child’s healthcare records to the extent possible
- Work with you to find an adoption agency that meets your needs
When searching for an attorney to represent you, there are various factors you should consider. First, it is crucial to hire an attorney who has handled adoption cases before. Some family law attorneys only focus on other areas, such as divorce and child custody, so make sure that the attorney also specializes in adoption law. You want a lawyer who has successfully helped other families finalize adoptions and who is intimately familiar with all aspects of adoption law.
You should also make sure that the attorney feels like the right fit for you personally, given the fact that you will be divulging a fair amount of personal information to your attorney during the adoption process. The attorney should be someone you feel you can trust, someone who keeps in close contact and prioritizes your case.
Adoption Requirements in Virginia
Adoption tends to be a joyful process, but it can also be complicated, and without a lawyer to guide you, you could quickly start feeling overwhelmed. The adoption lawyers at Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. can reduce the potential for stress by explaining the laws that govern adoption in an easy-to-understand way and ensuring that the adoption is legally sound.
In Virginia, you can adopt a child whether you are single or married, and you can also adopt if you are part of a same-sex couple. For a married couple to adopt, both spouses must be legally supportive of the adoption. The child must live with you in the family home for six months before a court will make the adoption official. Minors who are 14 and above have to personally consent to an adoption for it to be valid in Virginia.
While most people in Virginia are entitled to adopt regardless of age or marital status, there are certain individuals who may not be able to adopt, depending on their circumstances.
For example, individuals who have been convicted of a felony offense might or might not be able to adopt. Felons who were convicted of a violent crime (including a violent crime committed against a minor) will most likely not be allowed to adopt a child. However, individuals convicted of other types of felonies could still qualify. A social worker will assess whether a convicted felon can adopt after carefully considering the specific circumstances of their case.
Common Types of Adoption
Some of the most common types of adoptions in Virginia include:
- Agency adoption – Many domestic adoptions within the United States occur through adoption agencies. Adoption agencies are a liaison between a child’s birth parents and the adoptive family. The birth parents place the child up for adoption through the agency, and the agency matches the child with an adoptive parent or parents.
- Parental placement adoption – Parental placement adoption occurs when a child’s birth parents select the adoptive family directly. Parental placement adoptions are governed by Virginia Code Section 63.2-1232. To adopt a child through parental placement in Virginia, the adoptive family must submit to a home study. During the home study, a child-placing agency will assess the home environment and evaluate other details about the adoptive family, including their finances and medical records. If the home study is successful, the adoptive parents will participate in joint counseling sessions with the child’s biological parents. In some cases, the birth father’s consent is required, but not in all situations. After counseling, the family must go through a probationary period, during which time the child placement agency will continue to visit the home and conduct further evaluations. After this period, if successful, a judge can finalize the adoption. There are other requirements for parental placement adoptions as well, so it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney before you begin the process.
- Foster care adoption – Some children are adopted through the foster care system. The ultimate aim of foster care is to return a child to their family home and reunite them with their biological parents. However, if it is not in the child’s best interests to do so, or if the birth parents cannot fulfill the necessary requirements to have their parenting rights restored, then those rights could be permanently revoked. In that case, the foster family could legally adopt the child.
- International adoption – An international adoption involves an American family adopting a child from another country. International adoptions are among the most complicated types of adoptions due to legal requirements in the child’s home country as well as federal and state guidelines here in the United States.
No matter what type of adoption you are dealing with, we advise securing legal representation from the outset. A skilled Virginia Beach adoption lawyer from Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. can help make the process as smooth as possible. Contact us at (757) 962-5588 for a free consultation.