Wednesday, July 22, 2009

how to use an RSS feed

Here is a great article on how to use an RSS feed to follow this blog and setting it up in Google Reader (like and email program to organize the sites you are following.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

terminations and adoption in Texas part 2

I know some of you have been on the edge of your seats to get to part 2. Sorry for the delay, been busy busy.

Okay, so we know now about terminating a parent's rights. That is the first step to completing an adoption in Texas. As I stated earlier, there can only be one father and one mother. If a step-father wants to adopt, then bio father must be terminated. However, if someone other than a step-parent wants to adopt then BOTH parent's parental rights must be terminated. This would mean grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc...

Okay, so on to adoptions. This discussion is about private adoptions in Texas and not adoptions through an agency. Everyone knows what an adoption is, so I will just give a brief discussion of what is required to complete the adoption. First you must have a home study done. A home study is where a social worker comes and visits your house and makes sure it is suitable for the child being adopted. The social worker then makes a report to the court that the home is suitable and the adoption should go through. If the home is not suitable, or the people in it are not, then you know the result of that. Social studies can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands dependent upon where you are and the requirements of that specific court.

The next major expense is the ad litem or amicus attorney. This person is an attorney and represents the interest of the child. An attorney for the child. In a step-parent adoption this requirement can sometimes be waived, but is a requirement in all other adoptions. The purpose of the amicus attorney is again to watch out for the best interests of the child and make a recommendation to the Court for or against the adoption. Guess who pays for this.

Next, the prospective adoptive parent or parents must have a criminal history report submitted to the court. This is done by submitting a fingerprint card to the Department of Public Safety who then mails a copy of the report to the court. Clean record, clean adoption. This is only required for the adopting parent. You bio parents out there with the arm length wrap sheets are safe!

Next there is the health and genetic report. This is not required in a step-parent adoption because the bio parent knows their medical background and probably that of the parent who will be terminated. When the adoption involves non-parents however, it is important to know the biological parent's medical background so that the child's health can be safeguarded. This is a form that must be filled out in detail and filed with the court.

There are a few affidavits that must be filed with the court that I won't go into here. Nothing major.

This is not an all inclusive list of the things that occur in an adoption, but it is pretty close. If you are contemplating an adoption I suggest you contact an attorney and let them handle it so that you do not miss anything. However, if you want to research it more yourself, all the requirements are set out in the Texas Family Code. You can find a link to the Texas Family Code at my website to the right under Resources.

One final word to address the questions that I know will arise. Typically a court will not terminate a parents rights unless there is proof to the court that there is someone who is going to step in and support the child. For example, mother makes $30,000 a year and is struggling to get by. She despises the father and wants to terminate his rights, but there is nobody adopting the child. Father does not pay child support. In this situation the Court most likely will not terminate the parental rights unless there is some other reason to do so, but not for failure to support the child. They want somebody supporting the child or obligated to support the child. They will not let the father off the hook so easy. In my scenario, if the mother made $100,000 per year or there were a step father adopting, the Court may change its position because they know the child will be taken care of financially.

Another point. What happens to child support in a termination? Current child support (i.e. child support in the future) terminates. Back child support is not terminated (absent an agreement by the person owed the money) because that obligation has already accrued and is due and owing. That simple.

Good luck.

The information contained in this blog is provided for informational (and sometimes entertainment) purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. I can guarantee you that I am not covering every facet of the family code, and there may be hidden gems in the Family Code that could make or break your case based upon your specific fact situation. No recipients of content from this blog, retained client or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice. ALL CASES ARE DIFFERENT BECAUSE OF THE FACTS PARTICULAR TO YOUR CASE; THEREFORE YOU NEED A LAWYER TO DISCUSS THOSE SPECIFIC FACTS. I expressly disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the content of this blog. Talk to a lawyer first, preferably me, it is that simple!