my fiancé wants to adopt my son once we are married there is no father on the birth certificate. my fiancé is the only dad my son has ever had and known. so how do we go about the adoption process?
Your first step should be to find an attorney who specializes in Adoption in your state. Consider finding an attorney through the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys - www.adoptionattorneys.org.
Your attorney will help you to find out where the biological father stands with respect to his rights under your state’s adoption law. He may be considered a biological father or a legal father. There is usually different criteria depending on his legal status. In Georgia, legal fathers are ones who were married to the birthmother or acknowledged paternity (got their names on the birth certificate), but you should consult with an attorney to find out what the criteria is in your state.
In most states, it is easier to have the rights of a biological father terminated. Usually, the biological father’s rights can be terminated without written consent after notice is given and he does not respond for a certain period of time.
If your son's natural father is determined to be a legal father, however, check with your lawyer about having his rights terminated on the grounds of abandonment. In Georgia, if legal fathers have not communicated, supported and seen their children in over a year, then the courts here can terminate their rights based on abandonment. Again, you should ask your lawyer if there is a similar statute in your state.
The other option is to find the biological father and ask if he is willing to sign over his parental rights to your son. If he is willing, the step-parent adoption can usually move faster in court.
The most important thing you can give your child is his complete medical history. I strongly encourage you to get a complete history from his natural father - you never know what the future brings, and if you lose touch with him in the future, this may be very helpful to have.
Once the biological father’s rights have been terminated, you can go forward with the step-parent adoption. After the completion of the adoption, the biological fathers will no longer be liable for any future child support.
A couple of additional questions you will want to ask your attorney:
(1) Does the law in your state require that you are married before you do a step-parent adoption, and if so, do you need to be married for a certain period of time before the court will allow you to complete a step-parent adoption?
(2) Do you have a reunion registry that the biological father can become a part of so that your son can reach out to him sometime in the future, if he so desires?
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I am licensed to practice solely in Georgia, and do not intend to give legal advice or create a lawyer/client relationship. Please consult an attorney in your state for detailed advice on your legal question.
Criminal Defense Attorney
You'll need a family lawyer to assist. It depends on if we know who the father is. The father has rights and must be notified if possible. Here is a good FAQ on the subject. http://www.iaatp.com/docs/faqs-tx.pdf
Our firm offers adoption and termination services (you'll need terminate the father's rights if you are going to adopt). A judge will also be interested in you and your fiance's relationship before granting an adoption. How long have you been together etc.
Our firm has an experienced adoption team and we'd be glad to help.
Robert Guest is a Kaufman County Criminal Defense Lawyer with offices is Forney, Texas and Rockwall, Texas. My use of Avvo is not intended to form an attorney-client relationship. Avvo is a limited forum and should never be used as a replacement for a consultation with a local lawyer. My answers are not legal advice. You really need a consultation with a local attorney.