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Texas Family Law Courts: Adoption and Modification Cases

The landscape of family law in Texas, particularly when it comes to adoption and modification cases, requires a comprehensive understanding of the legal framework. Whether you’re considering expanding your family through adoption or seeking modifications to existing court orders, the process begins with a critical step: filing a “petition for adoption in Texas.” This introduction sets the stage for a deeper exploration of the intricacies of Texas Family Law Courts, guiding families through the essential phases and considerations of adoption and modification proceedings.

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:

  • Step-Parent Adoption
  • Grandparent Adoption
  • Termination of Parental Rights

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, you should immediately reach out to an experienced attorney. They can offer invaluable guidance on the workings of step-parent adoption in Texas and help you embark on this transformative journey, ensuring that you fully 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. Houston Family Law attorneys, experienced in handling adoptions, stand ready to collaborate closely with your family to realize 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. Legally adopting a child in Texas culminates with the court issuing an adoption decree, thereby establishing the adoptive parents and child’s parent-child relationship as though the child were their biological offspring.

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.

Additionally, Texas courts, except in rare cases involving Native American children, uphold a policy against discrimination based on the race or ethnicity of either the child or prospective parents. This policy enables parents of any race to adopt a child of any race, contingent on the adoption serving the child’s best interest.

What Adoption Means

When a Child May Be Adopted

Several circumstances enable private adoptions in Texas, including:

  1. If both of the child’s natural parents have passed away.
  2. A legal termination of the parent-child relationship with both natural parents has occurred.
  3. If a step-parent, who is the spouse of a natural parent, wishes to adopt the child.

Additionally, former step-parents may pursue adoption if they meet the following criteria:

  • The child is at least two years old.
  • Legal termination of the parent-child relationship with at least one of the natural parents has happened.
  • The court has named the former step-parent as the child’s Managing Conservator, or the former step-parent has maintained possession of the child for a determined period.

In scenarios where a step-parent, after the death of the natural parent they were married to, is raising a child, they may legally adopt the child. This is possible provided the child is older than two years and all necessary requirements are satisfied.

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

An unmarried pregnant woman can voluntarily terminate her parental rights. Many women opt for this path to enable the child’s adoption shortly after birth. 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 father’s rights also require consideration in the termination process. Fathers have the option to execute an Affidavit of Waiver of Interest, which is final and irrevocable. By signing, the father declares his non-paternity and opts out of any further legal proceedings.

If you are unmarried, facing an unplanned pregnancy, and considering adoption, we encourage you to contact us for a consultation to explore your rights and objectives.

Involuntary Termination

Involuntary termination of the parent-child relationship may be necessary when a parent’s behavior endangers the child. Courts may only proceed with involuntary termination if it benefits the child and the parent meets specific termination criteria. These criteria include neglect, such as not providing adequate food or clothing; abuse, or allowing the child to stay in an abusive environment; parental misconduct, including failing to enroll the child in school; endangering the child through drug or alcohol use; failing to support the child for over a year; imprisonment for more than two years; and other serious conditions like severe emotional or mental illness that prevents adequate childcare.

Involuntary termination proceedings are intricate, and courts must take several steps to safeguard the rights of both the parent and child. If you find yourself involved in an involuntary termination proceeding or believe you meet the criteria for such, seeking legal advice immediately is crucial.

Involuntary Termination

The Rights of Fathers

Fathers have the same right to their children as mothers. A father has the right to challenge his child’s adoption and to protection when the termination of his relationship with his child is involuntary.

If your wife has a baby while you are married, the law presumes you to be the child’s father. The presumption also applies if you appear on the birth certificate, or if you live with the child during its first two years of life and represent to others as your own. But what happens if you haven’t done any of these things, yet believe you might be the father of 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 termination of the natural parents’ parental rights occurs, the formal adoption process can start.

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 occur before placing the child in the home, and the adoptive parents will cover the cost of the study.

Following the child’s placement in the home, a social worker usually conducts another study to provide the court with a detailed view of the child’s potential home life with the new family.

The adoptive parents cannot formally adopt the child until he or she has resided with them for six months. The court may waive this requirement if it serves 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

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.