Adoption can be a wonderful way for a child to receive a caring, loving parent. As most readers know, adoption is the formal transferring of parental rights to another person who may or may not be related to the child. The circumstances under which adoption may arise can vary tremendously. In some cases, a stepparent may choose to adopt the child of his or her spouse; in other cases, a person may choose to adopt simply because of a desire to parent a child. Finally, infertility may lead others to adopt. Whatever the case may be, the procedure for adopting a child in Texas is complex and requires expert guidance to fully traverse.
In this post, we will go over the essentials of the adoption process; those who would like to learn more are encouraged to contact The Ramage Law Group for more information.
Adoption vs. Conservatorship
Before discussing the adoption procedure, we should point out that adoption is legally distinguishable from another kind of custody – conservatorship. In the State of Texas, a court may grant a non-biological relative or third-party a conservatorship over a child for numerous possible reasons. This conservatorship bestows upon the holder various rights which are similar to the rights possessed by a biological parent. However, conservatorship is distinct from legal parenthood on several critical points. For one, a child who has a conservator does not automatically have inheritance rights; this is different from a parent-child relationship in which the child has automatic inheritance rights. What’s more, the full rights of the conservatorship are actually limited to those which have been specifically identified by the court. This is unlike a legal parent who has full rights. And finally, conservatorships can always be subject to change in the future. In an adoption, the parent-child relationship is established and is not subject to change.
Who May Become an Adoptive Parent?
Generally, any person who is an adult may petition the court to become an adoptive parent. However, adoption is only possible in a limited number of circumstances. A person cannot simply petition the court unilaterally; a circumstance must be present which allows the possibility of adoption to begin with.
When is Adoption Permissible?
The key requirement of adoption in the State of Texas is that the preexisting parental rights of the biological parents be removed so that the adoptive parent may gain parental rights. The reason for this is because a child may only have one set of legal parents; a child cannot have a legitimate adoptive parent with parental rights while simultaneously having biological parents who maintain parental rights.
A number of common scenarios arise in which the parental rights of the biological parents are removed for the purpose of facilitating adoption. One common situation is adoption by a stepparent. In Texas law, a biological parent who is married to a prospective adoptive parent can retain his or her parental rights, but the other biological parent must relinquish his or her parental rights.
In another scenario, both biological parents may have lost their parental rights, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and someone wishes to become the adoptive parent of their child. In another scenario, a person may receive consent from one biological parent who still has parental rights, as long as the adoptive parent is the child’s former stepparent, conservator, or actual caregiver for a minimum of 6 months prior to the adoption.
Additional Requirements of Adoption
There are other requirements of adoption in the State of Texas. For instance, in order to adopt, the prospective adoptive parent must be living with the child for at least 6 months prior to the filing; however, this requirement can be waived in certain exceptional cases. In all cases, Texas courts will utilize the “best interest of the child” standard when evaluating whether adoption is appropriate in a given situation. The best interest of the child standard requires a case-by-case analysis, but many factors are known to have significance. In the future, we will discuss this legal analysis in more detail.
Contact The Ramage Law Group for More Information
As you can see, the adoption process can get complicated quickly in Texas. We will likely circle back and discuss this topic in greater detail in the near future. For now, reach out to the Ramage Law Group today for more information by calling 469-899-3533 .