Texas Family Law Courts: Adoption and Modification Cases

For an adoption to take place the parental rights of either the child’s mother or father must first be terminated by a court. A petition for adoption would be filed in the court with jurisdiction over the child. The petition will be filed by either the potential adoptive parent or parents if two persons are married.

Both married people must be participants in the adoption case. The suit would need to be filed after a point at which the child has resided with the adoptive parents for at least six months.

As we discussed a few days prior, an ad litem attorney may be appointed by the judge in order to represent interests of the child. The court will do some “detective” work and investigate the criminal histories and backgrounds of the potential adoptive parents.

A study of the family’s home will be conducted as well with the results being reported back to the judge. A social study must be conducted in order to terminate the parental rights of both biological parents of the child. Assuming that the results show the judge that allowing the adoption would be in the best interests of the child the adoption petition will be granted.

Situations that will allow for the termination of the biological parent’s rights

There are basically two situations in which parental rights of biological parents can be terminated:

  1. If the judge finds that the rules regarding termination as set forth in the Texas Family Code justify the termination and said termination is in the best interests of the child
  2. A biological parent has voluntarily relinquished the child by signing an affidavit signing over their rights to the state agency or other person. If you are a father and you do not register with the State’s paternity registry your parental rights may be terminated as well.

How to start the process of adopting a child

Either a licensed adoption agency or you as a potential adoptive parent can file a lawsuit to begin the process to terminate the parental rights of the biological parents. If you are working through an agency they will have an attorney to do this for you.

If you are going about the process without an agency you will need to hire an attorney to file the termination lawsuit on your behalf. Once the lawsuit is filed the process proceeds as described in the opening section of this blog post.

Modifying a court’s prior orders for custody. Child support and visitation

If you find yourself in a position where the current orders in place in regard to child custody, visitation or child support are not working for you and your family due to a change in circumstances then you can file a modification lawsuit in the same court that issued those prior orders.

Before you decide to do so, however, it makes a lot of sense to contact a family law attorney to determine if doing so is a prudent step to take. The reason being is that a court’s analysis of your situation will be fairly complex and will involve many subjective factors that the judge will consider.

For starters, in your petition to modify a prior court order, you will need to submit an affidavit to the judge which describes the change in circumstances your family has seen and how that changes requires an update/modification of the prior orders. That affidavit must lay out the circumstances clearly to the judge or you risk having your case dismissed prior to even getting a hearing date. For the most part, if you are attempting to file a modification case within one year of a prior order being signed by the judge your odds of success in a modification suit are extremely low.

Modifying possession of a child

Again, I would advise that you speak to an attorney before filing a modification suit regarding possession and visitation. The most important factor is that a judge will seriously evaluate whether or not a significant change in circumstances is apparent in relation to either yourself, the other parent or your child.

If it is clear to the judge that the visitation schedule either cannot work or is otherwise not in the best interests of the child for whatever reason then a modification may occur.

What sort of circumstances would a court be looking for in order to modify visitation orders? From my experience, if your child’s other parent fails to take advantage of his or her periods of possession multiple times then that may be reason enough to modify the orders of possession. If the other parent has begun to engage in drug or alcohol use and that has affected the child then a modification may be appropriate.

A prior client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan hired us to help her modify a court order on possession after her ex-husband was arrested for DWI while their child was asleep in the backseat of the vehicle.

Fortunately, nobody was injured and the child never actually woke up during the car ride or subsequent arrest of his father. However, our client did not want to put her child in harm’s way again and had us file a modification suit immediately. We resolved the issues in mediation without ever having to go to a hearing or trial.

A court would surely have determined that the ex-husband’s behavior was not in the best interest of the child and offered a significant risk of immediate harm. With this in mind, it made sense for the opposing party to settle out of court rather than to risk a worse result in a hearing.

Questions on adoption or modification cases? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

To learn more about either of the subjects that we covered in today’s blog please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. A licensed family law attorney is available six days a week to answer your questions in a free of charge consultation.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Adoption in Texas: Essential information that you need to know
  2. 11 Things You Must Know About Texas Child Custody
  3. 15 Simple (But Important) Things To Remember About Texas Adoption Cases And Lawyers
  4. How can parental rights be terminated in Texas?
  5. Termination of Parental Rights and an MSA in Texas
  6. Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
  7. Relinquishment and Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
  8. Terminating Parental Rights in Texas on the Absent Parent
  9. Voluntarily Relinquishing Your Parental Rights in Texas
  10. What rights does a father have in Texas?
  11. Fathers' Rights: Children Born Out of Wedlock in Texas?

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Texas Adoption Lawyers

The adoption process can be daunting at the time. You don’t have to face it alone. The attorneys at The Law Office of Bryan Fagan can help you navigate the process and create your perfect family. If you are in the greater Houston area and are interested in learning more, contact us today to speak directly with one of our adoption attorneys about your case.

Our Adoption lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles adoptioncases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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