Hurricane Utah Adoption with Ruesch & Reeve
We here at Ruesch & Reeve in Hurricane, Utah understand the adoption process can be a very special time for you. You can count on us that we will be there every step of the way to help see you through.
Adoption is the process of legally binding children to new parents.
This most often occurs when the biological parents are not able to financially or emotionally care for a child.
Utah laws On marriage and adopting
In Utah, a couple must be married to adopt, although it is possible for just one spouse to adopt.
However it is possible for just one spouse to adopt as long as the other spouse consents.
It is also possible for a single adult to adopt as long as he or she is living alone.
If the adopting parent is a current step-parent, the child and step-parent must be living in the same home for at least six months.
Also, in all situations, the adopting parent must be at least 10 years older than the child.
What comes first in the Adoption Process
The process begins by filing a petition for adoption in the district court in the county in which the child resides.
The petition must describe the parent seeking adoption and the child’s situation. It should also confirm the parents desires and ability to support the child.
What comes after we file the petition for adoption
Once the petition is filed notice must be given to the any interested party.
So he or she has an opportunity to respond.
A home study evaluation must be conducted by a licensed clinical social worker to assure the parents home is suitable.
If the parent is a current step-parent the home study is not necessary.
A non-adopting mother or father must consent to the adoption.
As well as the child if he or she is at least 12 years old.
The court will generally hold a short hearing to ask a few questions of the adopting parents.
The court hearing cannot happen till all necessary paperwork is filed.
Whether the adoption is truly in the child’s best interest.
If all goes well, the court will finalize the adoption with a Decree of Adoption.
The decree will legally bind the parent and child.
It obligates the parent to support the child.
The parent may change the child’s last name to that of his or her new parents.
Terminating Parental Rights
A child can only legally have one mother and one father at a time.
If one or both of those parents are not meeting their responsibilities to their child.
Or if one or both parents chooses to relinquish their rights due to their youth or other inability to care for their child.
A termination of parental rights action may be appropriate so the child may be eligible for adoption.
A parent cannot generally relinquish his or her parental rights; without an adopting parent waiting to take his or her place.
On the other hand, a parents rights can be terminated for cause even if there is no adopting parent waiting.
There are certain jurisdictional issues that will have to be worked through before adoption, if the child resides out of state, and the adopting parents reside in Utah.
How To Terminate Parental Rights
A law suite begins with a petition filed in either the juvenile or district court in the county where the child resides; or where there is already a case involving the child.
The petitioner must allege a ground for termination.
Such as abandonment, abuse, neglect, or parental unfitness. They must allege it is in the child’s best interest to terminate parental rights.
What happens after the petition is filed?
the petition is filed, responded parent(s) and anyone else that has acted like a parent to the child must be served and have an opportunity to respond.
If the respondent does not respond to the petition;
Default can be taken, and an order will then be entered with a simple hearing.
If the respondent wishes to contest the action, he and/or she must file an Answer and fully participate in the proceeding.
At trial the petitioner must prove the alleged ground(s) for termination and then show it is in the child’s best interest to terminate.
If the petitioner is able to establish abandonment, the burden shifts to the respondent to prove it is not in the child’s best interest to terminate.
The parent permanently becomes a legal stranger to the child. with no rights or responsibilities.
For example, the former parent will have no visitation rights or authority over the child and will have no further child support obligation.
It is possible to reach a post-adoption agreement that can somewhat change this outcome. See below for more information.
What happens if there is no ground for termination
If the court determines there is not a ground for termination, but it is in the child’s best interest to remain in someone other than the parents’ home.
It is possible for the court to order a permanent guardianship instead of termination.
In this event, the parent retains his or her parental rights with rights of visitation and child support obligation, but the child will continue to live in the guardian’s home.
Division of Child and Family Services
After the Utah Division of Child and Family Services has determined the child is dependent. (meaning abused or neglected)
In Juvenile court they will come up with with a concurrent or dual plan.
This plan is to attempt to rehabilitate and reunify the parents and child. Or to terminate their parental rights if the reunification attempt fails.
Once the state determines to terminate parental rights. The process is essentially the same as described above beginning with a petition.
Post- Adoption Agreement
Utah law now allows for such post-adoption agreements to be enforceable.
In other words, it is possible for parents to consent to the termination of their parental rights.
The parents could still have some visitation rights. Or some right to receive pictures, or other updates, about the child.
This is essentially a contract, the terms of which can be negotiated between the parties.
Ruesch & Reeve will help you navigate through this process of adoption in Utah.
Ruesch & Reeve understand the adoption process in Utah
We here at Ruesch & Reeve know this is a stressful and joyous time in your life. You can trust that we will help you navigate the ins and outs every step of the way through the adoption process in Hurricane, Utah
Newborn Safe-Haven Law
An important note for a parent that may feel overwhelmed or simply unable to care for a new baby.
Utah has a newborn safe-haven law that allows a parent to leave an infant at any Utah hospital.
Essentially no questions asked and no liability on the part of the parent.; they will remain anonymous.
The Division of Child and Family Services will take custody of the child to place him or her for adoption.
We are here to help you through adopting
The Attorneys at Ruesch & Reeve have helped countless people and families through the adoption process.
We will ensure it is a straightforward and happy event for you and your adopted child.
We will help you navigate your options and what is necessary to complete an adoption here in Hurricane, Utah.
Don’t delay give us a call here at Ruesch & Reeve today if you are considering an adoption in Hurricane,Utah.