Adoption and court gavelThis is the next post in my series on step-parent adoptions in Las Vegas, Nevada. My last post discussed the impact of the legal change in custody on the biological parents and adoptive parent. The decision to adopt a child or to terminate the parental rights of a birth parent have permanent consequences on the parties involved. It is important to understand how this choice may affect your rights and responsibilities once finalized. In this post, I will explain the adoption process when the birth parent consents to terminating his or her parental rights. The laws and procedures governing the process can be complicated. Engaging a family law attorney with experience in these matters can help you avoid mistakes that may delay the adoption. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

Before a step-parent can adopt a child, a family court judge must terminate the rights of the biological parent. In certain circumstances, the termination may be ordered over the objections of the birth parent or due to their failure to respond to the Petition to Terminate Parental Rights. This may lead to a lengthy legal process. In many cases, however, the biological parent is willing to voluntarily terminate his or her rights. When the parent consents, the process to finalize the adoption can move fairly quickly.

When the birth parent signs a a Consent Decree, the parties will file it along with a Petition for Adoption and the court will schedule an uncontested hearing date. The biological parents, the step-parent and, if old enough to participate, the child or children being adopted will attend the hearing. The judge will want to ask the parties about whether they understand their rights and obligations and if they are willing to move forward with the adoption. Absent any issues, the court will issue its final Order approving the adoption at the conclusion of the hearing.

Following the completion of the legal process, there are a few practical matters for the parents to consider. If the child is changing his or her last name or if changing parents’ names on a birth certificate, the parents should contact the appropriate vital records offices. Contacting the children’s schools, day care centers, physicians and other caregivers to share the new guardian’s information will also be important. You may need to provide copies of the court’s Order to avoid any misunderstandings about the adoptive parent’s rights to make decisions related to the child going forward. If the child’s last name will not be the same as the adoptive parent’s, it is advisable to carry a copy of the Order in case of a medical emergency where consent to treatment is required.

While an uncontested adoption is much simpler than a contested case, failing to comply with the specific legal requirements may lead to delays or unplanned hurdles. Retaining a family law attorney with experience in step-parent adoptions can help parents navigate the process and avoid costly mistakes. Contact my office today to speak to a Las Vegas adoption lawyer.