Step-Parent Adoptions In Virginia
Who Can AdoptOnly a new spouse can adopt. You must be legally married to the person who is adopting the child.
Must The Biological Parent ConsentThe process is immensely easier if the biological parent signs a Consent to Adopt.
If the biological parent cannot be located, after a good faith effort to locate the parent is made, they can be served with notice through an Order of Publication that is run in the newspaper.
If they refuse to consent, a hearing can be held, at which the court can decide whether the consent is being withheld contrary to the best interests of the child. If the court finds that this is the case, the adoption can proceed even without the consent.
No consent is required if the child is 14 years old and has lived with the step-parent for the past five years.
No consent is required if the putative father denies paternity under oath or the noncustodial parent is deceased.
If he is not registered with the Putative Father Registry and is provided with the required notice to register.
Must The Child ConsentIf the child is over the age of 14, the child must execute a Consent also.
ProcedureA Petition For Adoption (preferably with Consents by all parties) is filed in the Circuit Court in the City/County where the child and adoptive parent live. If there is no contest, an Order will be entered by the court, without the need for a personal appearance in court.
Effect of AdoptionThe adoption eliminates the biological parent's obligation to provide support for the child, but it does not eliminate any existing child support arrearage.
The adoption does NOT eliminate the child's right to inherit from the biological parent. Accordingly, if you want to exclude this child from inheritance, you need to state it explicitly.
Adoption eliminates the parental presumption in favor of the natural parent in custody proceedings between the natural parent and the adoptive parent.
Common Law AdoptionThere is no common law adoption in Virginia. Adoption is purely statutory, and all of the statutory requirements must be complied with in order for the adoption to be valid.
Choice of AttorneyAdoption is a specialized area of the law. You should consult an attorney who has specific experience in Adoptions.