Texas Family Law Courts: Adoption and Modification Cases

Hey there, fellow adventurers of life! Picture this: a vast Texan horizon painted with shades of opportunity, where families, big and small, come together to embark on one of the most heartwarming journeys imaginable – adoption.

Ever felt the warmth of your heart tugging you towards making a difference in a child’s life? Well, you’re in for a treat! In this captivating blog, we’re diving headfirst into the world of Texas adoption cases and the intriguing legal considerations that come along for the ride. So, if you’ve ever pondered the ins and outs of adoption, or if you’re a soon-to-be adoptive parent seeking guidance, you’ve stumbled upon the right trail!

Short Answer: We’re delving into the enchanting world of Texas adoption, uncovering everything from home study requirements to international adoption insights. Whether you’re a parent-to-be, a curious soul, or simply love heartwarming tales, keep reading because this journey promises to be an eye-opener and a heart-warmer rolled into one!

Texas Family Law Courts Adoption and Modification Cases

The adoption process can be a very emotional experience for everyone involved. You may be feeling excited, anxious, or unsure about what steps to take next. The attorneys at The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, are here to answer all your questions and walk you through the process.

The term “adoption” covers many situations and areas of law. Some areas that might be of particular concern to your family include:

Embarking on a step-parent adoption in Texas can be a fairly long and complicated process. If you are interested in pursuing step-parent adoption or are contemplating placing your child up for adoption, it’s advisable to reach out to an experienced attorney immediately. They can provide invaluable guidance on how step-parent adoption in Texas works and help you get started on this transformative journey while ensuring you understand your rights and options.

Adopting Your Stepchild: Understanding the Process in Texas

Houston Adoption Attorneys

If you are in the greater Houston area, including Harris, Fort Bend, Grimes, Waller, and Washington counties, and you are thinking about adopting a child or placing your child up for adoption, or you are facing a suit to terminate the parent-child relationship with your child, contact The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, for a consultation today. Our Houston Family Law attorneys are experienced with handling adoption and are ready to work closely with your family to achieve your adoption goals.

What Adoption Means

Adoption options in Texas: What you need to know about legally adopting a child in the Lone Star State. When you legally adopt a child in Texas, an adoption decree will be entered by the court, solidifying the parent-child relationship between the adoptive parents and the child, just as if the child were born to them.

In the state of Texas, any adult, whether single or married, can adopt a child, provided that the court determines that the adoption is in the child’s best interests. If you are a married couple, it’s important to note that both spouses must participate in the adoption process.

Moreover, it’s worth mentioning that, with very limited exceptions related to Native American children, Texas courts are committed to a non-discriminatory approach based on the race or ethnicity of the child or the prospective parents. Typically, a parent of any race can adopt a child of any race, as long as the adoption is deemed to be in the child’s best interest.

What Adoption Means

When a Child May Be Adopted

Private adoptions in Texas provide several circumstances under which a child may be adopted:

  1. If both of the child’s natural parents have passed away.
  2. When the parent-child relationship with both natural parents has been legally terminated.
  3. If a step-parent, who is the spouse of a natural parent, wishes to adopt the child.

Additionally, a former step-parent can also pursue adoption if the following conditions are met:

  • The child is at least two years old.
  • The parent-child relationship has been terminated with at least one of the natural parents.
  • The former step-parent has been named the child’s Managing Conservator or has had possession of the child for a specified period.

For instance, in a scenario where a step-parent is raising a child after the child’s natural parent (the step-parent’s spouse) has passed away, the step-parent may have the opportunity to legally adopt the child, provided the child is over two years old, and all necessary criteria are met.

To determine whether adoption is a viable option for your family and understand the specific steps involved, it is crucial to consult with your attorney, particularly in the context of private adoptions in Texas.

You should discuss the specifics of your situation with your lawyer, who will help you decide if adoption is an option for your family, and what steps you need to take next.

When a Child May Be Adopted

Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship

In many cases, the child being adopted has living natural parents. The parent-child relationship between the child and these parents will need to be terminated before the child can be adopted. The termination process can be a very emotional experience for the parents and child involved. Our attorneys are here to help you understand the process and to protect your rights.https://www.youtube.com/embed/GBeGd1FoUY8?si=0O_8WtreU2GI6fMW

Voluntary Termination During Pregnancy

The parent-child relationship may be terminated voluntarily by an unmarried pregnant woman. Many women choose this route to allow the child to be adopted soon after they are born. An unwed mother may file her petition to terminate her rights as a parent anytime after her first trimester of pregnancy. A hearing will be held on her petition at least five days after the child is born, giving the mother the chance to change her mind. If the mother does not wish to go to court, Texas law allows for her to file an affidavit instead, forty-eight hours or more after the child is born. This affidavit is still revocable for ten days, giving her another opportunity to change her mind. Both adult and teenage mothers may sign these affidavits.

Of course, the rights of the father must also be addressed in the termination. These men have the option of signing an Affidavit of Waiver of Interest, which is irrevocable. It basically says that the man does not believe he is the father, and will not be involved in any further proceedings.

If you are unmarried and facing an unplanned pregnancy, and you’re interested in adoption, contact us today for a consultation to discuss your rights and goals.

Involuntary Termination

Involuntary termination of the parent-child relationship may be appropriate where a parent acts in a way that is harmful to a child. Involuntary termination can only take place when it is in the best interest of the child AND certain grounds for termination are met. These grounds for termination include:

  • Neglect, such as failure to properly feed or clothe the child
  • Abuse, including allowing the child to remain in an abusive situation
  • Parental Misconduct, such as failing to enroll the child in school
  • Use of drugs or alcohol that endangers the child
  • Failure to support the child for more than one year
  • Imprisonment for more than two years
  • Certain other grounds, including serious emotional or mental illness that makes the parent unable to care for the child

An involuntary termination proceeding is very complex and the courts are required to take certain steps to protect the rights of the parents and child. If you are facing an involuntary termination proceeding, or you believe that the grounds for involuntary termination apply to you or someone in your family, you should contact a lawyer immediately.

Involuntary Termination

The Rights of Fathers

Fathers have the same right to their children as mothers. A father has the right to challenge the adoption of his child, and has a right to protection where their relationship with their child is being terminated involuntarily.

If you are married and your wife has a baby, you are presumed to be the child’s father. You will also be presumed to be the child’s father if you are listed on the birth certificate, or if you live with the child for the first two years of its life and tell others it’s your own. But what if you don’t do any of those things, but you believe you may have fathered a child?

Many men do not know that The State of Texas maintains a paternity registry. This registry allows men to assume responsibility for children they may have fathered out of wedlock. Filing with this registry protects your right to be involved in legal proceedings regarding your children. Perhaps more importantly, failure to register may terminate your parental rights.

If you believe you may have fathered a child and want more information regarding your responsibility to the child, or how to waive your rights to the child, you should contact one of our Houston Family Law attorneys for a consultation.

The Rights of Fathers

The Adoption Process

Once the parental rights of the natural parents have been terminated, the formal adoption process may begin.

The court will order a pre-adoptive social study. During this study, a social worker will come to your home to check on the conditions the child will be living in. This study must take place before the child will be placed in the home, and the adoptive parents pay for the study.

After the child is placed in the home, another study is usually conducted, to give the court a clear picture of what the child’s home life will be like with the new family.

The child cannot be formally adopted until he or she has lived with the adoptive parents for six months. This requirement may be waived if it’s in the child’s best interest.

If the child is over age 12, he or she will have to consent to the adoption. However, this requirement can also be waived, if it’s in the child’s best interest.

In most cases, a report will be filed by the person or agency placing the child up for adoption. This report contains important information regarding the child’s social history (such as relationship with siblings), health, educational history, genetics (such as ethnic background, or the cause of death of ancestors), and history of child abuse. An edited version of this report is given to the adoptive parents.

The adoption suit takes place in court, in the county where the child lives or the adoptive parents live. The judge will decide whether the adoption is in the best interest of the child, based in part on the social study. The child and adoptive parents are usually entitled to be in court.

Once the adoption decree is entered, the parent-child relationship between the adopted parents and the child is established.

The Rights of Adopted Children

Once the adopted child is an adult, he or she has certain rights. These rights include:

  1. The right to see a summary of the Social, Health, Educational and Genetic History report
  2. The right to register with a voluntary registry to find its natural parents and/or siblings
  3. In many cases, the right to inherit property from his natural parents

However, in Texas, adoption records are usually sealed, and the child does not have the right to see those records.

If you were adopted as a child you should contact an attorney to learn more about your right to access to your biological parents and adoption information.

The Rights of Adopted Children

Adult Adoption

Most people do not know that Texas law allows for one adult to adopt another adult. This is usually done for inheritance purposes. An adult adoptee can inherit through his adopted parents, but not his natural parents. The natural parents also cannot inherit from the adopted adult.

Because adults usually know what’s in their best interest, the court does not decide if the adoption is in the adoptee’s best interest. All an adult adoptee must do is consent to the adoption before a notary public.

In the heart of Texas, where the Lone Star State’s vast expanse meets the warmth of its people, adoption cases and legal considerations play a pivotal role in shaping countless families’ futures. From the sprawling urban landscape of Houston to the tranquil communities of Harris, Fort Bend, Grimes, Waller, and Washington counties, families embark on a unique journey when considering adoption.

Home Study Requirements

When venturing into the world of adoption, understanding the intricacies of the home study process is essential. A home study involves a thorough examination of a prospective adoptive family’s living environment, lifestyle, and suitability to provide a loving home for a child. This process is not meant to be invasive but rather ensures that the child’s well-being remains at the forefront of the adoption journey. Home studies help match children with families that align with their needs and ensure a safe, nurturing environment.

Open Adoption vs. Closed Adoption

In the realm of adoption, one of the crucial decisions prospective adoptive parents face is whether to pursue an open or closed adoption. Open adoption involves ongoing contact and communication between birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adopted child. Conversely, closed adoption maintains a level of confidentiality, with little to no contact between birth and adoptive families. The choice between these two paths hinges on the preferences and comfort levels of those involved.

Open Adoption vs. Closed Adoption

Adoption Agencies in Texas

Across the vast expanse of Texas, numerous adoption agencies are dedicated to facilitating the adoption process. These agencies play a pivotal role in connecting birth parents with adoptive families, guiding them through legal processes, and providing essential emotional support. From the bustling city streets of Houston to the serene landscapes of Grimes County, these agencies serve as pillars of hope for families seeking to adopt.

Adoption Costs and Financial Assistance

Caring for a child goes beyond love and commitment, especially when considering adoption in Texas. The question that often arises is, ‘How much does it cost to adopt a child in Texas?‘ This journey involves various expenses, encompassing legal fees, agency fees, and the costs associated with caring for the child. Nevertheless, it’s essential to recognize that there are financial assistance programs and resources accessible to support prospective adoptive families. These resources encompass grants, tax credits, and other avenues worth exploring to help mitigate the financial aspects and enhance the affordability of adoption for families filled with love.

Adoption ExpenseAverage Cost (USD)
Home Study$1,000 – $3,000
Agency Fees$15,000 – $40,000
Legal Fees$5,000 – $12,000
Birth Mother Expenses$3,000 – $7,000
Travel ExpensesVaries (if applicable)
Miscellaneous ExpensesVaries
Total Estimated Cost$25,000 – $70,000 (or more)
Adoption Costs and Financial Assistance

Post-Adoption Supp