Seeking to adopt another adult can be a time consuming, yet rewarding effort to undertake. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan seeks to provide you with the knowledge of what steps to take and how an attorney may be able to help you speed up the process and achieve your goal that much faster.
Who can file a case for an adult adoption in Texas?
There is no adult in Texas who is not able to file for the adoption of another adult in our state. Two specific requirements must be in place for the adoption to move forward, however. The first is that you must reside in Texas. The second is that the adult that you are seeking to adopt must consent to be adopted by you. If you can show a judge that both of these conditions are met, you can probably get the adoption to occur.
Where does an adult adoption case get filed?
Depending on the county in Texas in which you reside, you would file the adult adoption case in either the district court of that county or in whichever court is designated to be able to hear family law cases. If not a district court, then it would likely be a county court or county court at law that would hear your adoption petition. The title of the document that you would be filing is called an Original Petition for Adoption of an Adult.
When you file a case what sort of fees and/or costs are involved?
There is a filing fee associated with filing any sort of civil case in the county where you reside. The fees are usually posted on the district clerk’s website or on the website of the clerk of the court in which your case is being filed. If you lack the resources necessary to pay for the fees associated with your adult adoption case then you can file a request with the judge to have those fees waived. You will need to prove that you are unable to afford the costs by filling out paperwork with the court.
What does it mean to be a petitioner in an adult adoption case?
Since you are the party who is asking the court for something, you are called the "petitioner." To petition for something means to ask for something in legal-lingo. You are requesting that the court extends to you some relief in a particular area of your life. The petition for adoption of an adult is the document in which you are formally asking the judge for your requested relief. If you are married then your spouse will need to be listed as a petitioner as well.
What does it mean to be a respondent in an adult adoption case?
As opposed to most family law cases in Texas, there does not need to be any respondent listed in your petition to adopt an adult. The person that you are seeking to adopt is an adult and as such, there is no requirement under the law to give notice of the adoption to the person's biological parents or to bring in the adult's biological parents as parties to the case.
If you have read any of our blog posts on the subject of adoption, you likely know that in order to adopt a child in Texas, that child's mother and father must have had their parental rights terminated. That is only the case when you are attempting to adopt a minor child. In the event that you are attempting to adopt an adult, you do not need to have first terminated the parental rights of that adult's parents.
Is there such a thing as an involuntary adoption of an adult?
A child can be adopted against their wishes if a judge determines that it is in the best interests of that child for the adoption to proceed. When it comes to adopting an adult, however, no such result is possible. As you may have already imagined, you cannot adopt an adult human being (no matter how generous your intentions are) against that person’s will. You must have first (theoretically) had a conversation with that adult and gotten their consent to your adoption of him or her. Your adopted adult-child must manifest their consent to your adoption via a written document filed with the court.
How much court time (if any) needs to be logged in an adult adoption case?
You and the adult that you seek to adopt will have a duty to attend at least one court date for your case. There are circumstances that (in theory) could justify either you or the adult-adoptee to not be able to attend a hearing. You would need to file a motion to not appear in person for any hearing in your case. The judge would need to find that you have good cause to not be present in order to excuse your absence.
What actually happens in an adult adoption case?
In an adult adoption case, the adult that you seek to adopt will be named as your son or daughter, just as if he or she had been your son or daughter since birth. Your new child would have the right to inherit from you upon your death whether or not you have a will naming that child as a beneficiary of yours. Your child would likely not be able to inherit anything from their former parent's estate. You may also request to have your adopted adult-child’s name changed. Importantly, adopting an adult does not mean that you will be impacting that person’s immigration status.
A judge will not automatically approve of your request to adopt an adult. If the judge believes that the adoption is being requested in order for the adult adoptee to avoid paying a debt or that the adoption is moving forward because either you or the adult-child is not able to voice dissent to the adoption.
Why would you want to adopt an adult in Texas?
This is the main question that comes to my mind that most people would want to know when it comes to this subject. Adopting a child makes sense on a lot of levels. Children need guidance. Children need to be provided for. Children need someone to help them get an education. Adults have (theoretically) finished up with school, have jobs and have means by which they can care for themselves.
While adopting an adult can be done for symbolic reasons there can be legally based reasons for an adult adoption as well. For instance, if you are a foster parent you may be interested in adopting an adult that you had previously cared for in your foster home and has now aged out of the foster care system.
If you are a stepparent of an adult stepchild, then you may want to allow that stepchild that you raised to be able to gain the legal rights available to him or her as if he or she were your biological child. We have already listed inheritance benefits as just one of these rights.
Why would you wait until a child in an adult to begin the adoption process?
There are practical reasons as to why you would wait until your child is 18 until beginning the adoption process. In some instances, the adult-child that you seek to adopt does not want to formally acknowledge the person who raised him or her as their legal parent until he or she is an adult. The child could then reach out to you and express this desire.
You as the adoptive parent may choose to wait until your child turns 18 because the child’s biological parent(s) would not approve of the process. Another possibility is that the child was being ably raised by a relative and the child’s biological parents’ location was unknown.
Unfortunately, some biological parents are not able to participate in the adoption process without being disruptive or worse, yet- violent. If you have any questions about how stable the biological parent is then you are advised to not begin the adoption process until he or she reaches adulthood. An exception would be if you believe the child to be in harm’s way in that home.
There are obvious emotional aspects to adult adoption, as well. There is a sense of stability, comfort and the belonging to a familial unit that comes along with adoption. That may not have occurred to a child but now occurs to him or her as an adult. I have worked with adults who are in their 40s and 50s who wish to initiate adoption proceedings as a “tip of the cap” to the adult who helped raise him or her.
Legal effects of adult adoption in Texas
As we have already touched on, your adopted child would have inheritance rights to your estate when it comes time for that to be relevant. State law is relevant to your situation if you die without a will. In that case, the law of Texas will dictate who can inherit from you and in what order in comparison to other relatives of yours. Only blood relatives inherit from a person upon their death. Spouses and adopted children are exceptions to this law. Importantly, this means that if you are adopting an adult and are not married and have no other children, your adopted child will inherit property from you to the exclusion of any other relative.
In the event that you do have a will, adopting a child will allow your child some protection if your will is contested by other family members. In many cases, if a person leaves money or property to a person other than a spouse or biological child there are opportunities to contest the validity of that will. When you adopt a person who will go to “the front of the line” for the purposes of inheritance, you ask setting the child up to have to withstand a challenge to their viability to inherit from you.
It is important that you consider all of these factors before you move to adopt an adult for inheritance, or other purposes. If you have adult children of your own you may want to discuss your desire to adopt an adult in your life and the reasons why you want to do so. Many children (understandably) will have questions for you. Instead of surprising your adult-children with your decision to adopt a child it may be wise to have that discussion in advance. In this way, your adult-children will not feel like they have been blind-sided.
Whatever your decision, while hiring an attorney may not be essential for your particular adult adoption case, it is always wise to speak to someone with knowledge of the legal system before beginning a case. Your time and money are on the line, in addition to the emotional components of the case. An attorney is a great resource to check in with for no other reason than to make sure that you are filing your documents correctly. A little help in this regard can help ensure that you are able to complete the adoption in a reasonably quick and easy manner.
Questions about adult adoption in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the content of today’s blog post or need clarification on the subject matter itself, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week. These consultations are a great opportunity to ask questions about your situation and to have your issues addressed. Our attorneys work in every family court in southeast Texas and have the experience you can rely upon to achieve whatever goals you have for yourself and your family.
Thank you for spending part of your day with us and we hope that you will join us tomorrow as we discuss more subjects in Texas family law.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Adoption: Essential information for Texas families
- Texas Family Law Courts: Adoption and Modification Cases
- Adoption in Texas: Essential information that you need to know
- 11 Things You Must Know About Texas Child Custody
- 15 Simple (But Important) Things To Remember About Texas Adoption Cases And Lawyers
- How can parental rights be terminated in Texas?
- Termination of Parental Rights and an MSA in Texas
- Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
- Terminating Parental Rights in Texas on the Absent Parent
- Voluntarily Relinquishing Your Parental Rights in Texas
- What rights does a father have in Texas?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | 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, PLLC 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, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC 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.