Whether you are a parent adding a child to your family, a step parent already helping to raise a child or an adult who wishes to be adopted by his/her “real” parent(s), the attorneys at Mountain View Law Group can help. We take the time to get to know you, and your case, and work diligently to ensure that your adoption is handled as quickly as possible.
The attorneys at Mountain View Law Group have years of experience handling adoptions. We can help you navigate Utah's complicated adoption system, and do everything in our power to help the process go smoothly for you and your family.
Can I Represent Myself?
An adoption, unlike some other areas of law, almost always requires a hearing/trial where you will be required to present evidence, call witnesses and potentially make arguments. As you are acting as your own attorney, the Court will require that you follow the Rule of Civil Procedure even if you don’t understand them or even know exactly how they apply. In addition, you will also be required to abide by, understand and argue all applicable adoption laws. If you believe that you can handle these task, good luck. If not, it makes sense to hire an experienced attorney to streamline the process and make sure that things are done correctly.
How Can An Attorney Help Me In The Adoption Process?
A knowledgeable, experienced adoption attorney can help explain, simplify, and organize the adoption process and outline your options. The attorney can clarify the relevant adoption laws and regulations. Finally, the attorney will prepare the necessary documents and represent you at all hearings.
How Long Does It Take And How Much Does It Cost?
The time required to complete the stepparent adoption process varies depending upon the facts of each individual case. In cases where all of the parties are available and willing to sign the appropriate documents that case can be completed in as little as 120 days. In instances where the absent parent is not cooperative, the process could take appreciably longer but in most instances will be completed within one year or less. Fees for our services in connection with stepparent adoptions are billed at the prevailing hourly rate of the office at the time when the services are performed.
I am Single, Or Not Married To My Significant Other, Can I Adopt?
Utah law allows a single adult to adopt a child in certain circumstances. These include: there are no married persons who want to adopt the child; you are a relative of the child; you have a substantial relationship with the child; the placement is pursuant to the wishes of the parent or former parent; or, it is in the child’s best interests to be placed with a single person.
IF you are cohabitating with your significant other, but are unmarried, you will not be allowed to adopt a child. Only once you have been married for the appropriate amount of time will the Court consider your request to adopt to be valid.
Do I Have To Participate In A Home Study Or Obtain A Background Check?
For most adoptions, the laws of the State of Utah requires three primary evaluations, checks and reports. These are: (1) pre and post placement adoptive evaluations performed by a licensed provider; (2) a criminal background check; and, (3) a child abuse, dependency and neglect report. It is important that all three of these come back without any red flags as any negative information could cause the Court to reject your adoption petition. Contact an attorney, immediately, if you believe that there something in your past that could cause you trouble, so that he or she can advise you correctly.
Child Adoption Options In Utah
There are numerous reasons that may lead a person to seek an adoption in Utah. The reasons vary but all include a desire to make another a permanent, legal, part of the family. Unfortunately, each type of adoption comes with its own rules and procedures. Accordingly, it is imperative that that you contact Mountain View Law Group at the outset so that we can help make sure that everything is done correctly. By doing that you can avoid the costly mistakes and confusion that make adoption so difficult.
Types Of Adoption
The State of Utah allows for a number of types of adoption. These adoptions are as follows:
Infant adoption: In an infant adoption case the biological parents, usually through an adoption agency, are made aware of their right to counseling and their applicable legal rights. The biological parents will then consent to the adoption, voluntarily relinquishing their parental rights, and agreeing to give their child to the adopting family.
Step-parent adoption: In order to qualify for this type of adoption, the adopting step-parent must have lived with the child for one year, and must be at least ten (10) years older than the child to be adopted. If the child is twelve (12) years or older, the child must consent to the adoption. Upon initiating the case with the Court, the noncustodial parent must be given notice of the action. Said noncustodial parent can then consent to the adoption or, if certain requirements are met, his/her parental rights can be terminated by the Court.
(Note-- In some areas of the State, the step-parent may need to be married to the biological parent for more than one year.)
Am I Required To Notify The Absent Parent?
Utah law requires that the absent parent be notified, and given the opportunity to respond, to the adoption pleadings. Failure to give adequate legal notice will invalidate the proceedings. Accordingly, it is important that the absent parent be made aware of the filing, as required by law.
What Do I Need To Establish To Adopt My Stepchild?
In many instances when stepparent adoption petitions are filed, they are filed by a stepparent seeking to adopt his or her spouse’s child from a prior marriage or relationship. Quite often in those cases we find that the child has gone without contact and support from the absent biological parent for a significant period of time — often a matter of many months or years. As such the absent parent can be treated by the Court as an abandoning or neglectful parent. The Court will base its decision on what it believes is in the best interests of the child. In evaluating what is in the child’s best interests the Court will consider, among other things: the need for continuity of parenting; the financial ability to care for the child; who has provided care for the child; and which parent has provided emotional and social support of the child.
What If I Don't Know Where The Absent Parent Lives?
The fact of the matter is that it would be great if you could walk in and give us the address of the absent parent. Unfortunately, that isn’t always how things work out. Accordingly, we may need to utilize skip chasers, electronic searches or good old fashioned letters to try and track the parent down. Once that is done we will arrange for the proper service of the citation on the absent parent either personally or by publication.
Out of state adoption: This type of adoption applies to situations where the child is six (6) months old or younger and where mother (or one of the adoptive parents) has not resided in the State of Utah for 90 days or more between the date of conception and date the consent of adoption is executed. In order to complete the adoption, biological mother is required to take a number of steps to verify that she did everything possible to notify biological father.
Foster child adoption: For adoption or placement of a child in custody of the State of Utah, the adopting parents and any adult residing in the home, must: (1) be fingerprinted by the FBI and pass a national criminal history records check, (2) pass a Department of Human Services child abuse and neglect check, and (3) submit to an evaluation by a licensed health professional. (Note: these requirements are waived for a noncustodial parent or a relative.) Before issuing an adoption decree, the court will determine if the adoption is in the best interests of the child.
Immigrant adoption (alien child adoption): This type of adoption is a situation where a family desires to adopt a child aged 16 or younger who is not a naturalized citizen. The adopting parents must be permanent residents of the United States and must provide evidence from the Immigration and Naturalization Service establishing that the child is legally in this country.
Foreign adoption: For an adoption that occurred in another country, a document from the foreign country may treated as if it were an adoption decree rendered by the Utah courts. The adoptive parents will register with the state and request for a new birth certificate. It is important that you verify that the Country where you adopted the child is currently allowing U.S. citizens to adopt, or you may find that the adoption is void, when you return.
Adult adoption: This adoption is for any adult, over the age of 18, who wishes to be adopted by another person. (Note: This type of adoption is also designed to allow the adoption of a vulnerable adult (i.e. an adult with mental or physical deficiencies).