Quick Summary of Adoption Attorney St George Utah (Adoption Law Explained):
- What Are The Ground-Level Requirements For Adoption?
- How Do You Pay For Your Adoption Expenses?
- How Do You Become A Foster Parent?
- Are You Allowed To Use Facilitators And Advertising?
- How Do Birth Parents Consent To An Adoption?
- Is The Birth Mother The Only Person Required To Consent?
- Can There Be A Situation Where Parental Consent Is Not Needed?
- Can The Consent of Birth Parent’s Become Irrevocable?
- What Adoption Rights Does An Unmarried Father Have?
- What Does The Home Study Process In Utah Entail?
- Does The Home Study Process Include People Other Than You And Your Spouse?
- Who Conducts The Home Study?
- Can A Home Study Be Refused?
- Do Home Studies Need To Be Renewed?
- What Is A Post-Placement Study And What Are The Requirements?
- Are Home Studies Different When Relatives Or Stepparents Are Adopting?
- Are Home Studies Different During Interstate Adoptions?
The adoption process in any state is overwhelming.
Anyone who’s gone through it will attest. But if you educate yourself as much as possible beforehand – and during – the process, you’ll be in much better shape. With the help of an adoption attorney St George Utah, you’ll navigate your adoption journey with greater ease.
Yes, sometimes all of the qualifications and laws can get complicated. It is possible to understand it all, though. Understanding the basics of Utah adoption law will get you far. It will help you make the right decisions along the way.
All 50 states have their own laws designed to regulate the adoption process. The laws and qualifications cover many things, from what adoption expenses are allowed all the way to who can adopt.
Let’s go over how adoption works in the State of Utah.
Adoption Attorney St George Utah (Adoption Law Explained) – Part 1
1. What Are The Ground-Level Requirements For Adoption?
In order to qualify for adoption, you must be legally married. Stepparents qualify. Single people cannot adopt according to Utah adoption law.
The adopted child has to be 10 or more years younger than their adoptive parents. However, both parents do not need to meet this qualification. As long as one parent in the marriage is 10+ years older than the child, that meets the requirement.
In order for a married couple to adopt, both of them need to consent. A married person may not adopt a child if they do not have the consent of their spouse. If the married couple is legally separated but not divorced, a spouse wishing to adopt does not need spousal consent.
If a couple is cohabiting but is not married, they may not adopt. Contact an adoption attorney St George Utah for more questions on this.
How Do You Pay For Your Adoption Expenses?
All your expenses related to adoption are considered an act of charity . They must be reasonably and clearly related to the adoption. Dollar amounts must also be deemed reasonable. Such as if money is being used to pay for the adoption expenses of the biological parents.
What constitutes a reasonable expense? They need to be adoption-related in the form of living expenses, travel, counseling, maternity, medical, or legal expenses.
All adoption expenses must be formally reported by the adoptive parents. This has to be done before the final adoption decree is submitted. This report must include all property, gifts, expenses, fees, etc. Anything of value that was received or given relating to the adoption.
3. How Do You Become A Foster Parent?
If your goal is to become a foster parent, you have to be 21 or older. There’s also a licensing, assessment, and training process you have to complete. Get more info about foster in care in Utah here.
4. How Do You Accomplish An International Adoption?
Your adoption order can still be registered in Utah even it’s an international one. If you want, you can combine a name change petition with a petition for registration of a foreign adoption order. The state registrar will file the birth certificate and the adoption order.
Sometimes, a child’s birth place and birth date cannot be verified. In this case, you can further establish these facts by petitioning for a court order. An adoption attorney St George Utah can help you with this.
5. Are You Allowed To Use Facilitators And Advertising?
Yes and no. Let us explain.
Any party helping you must have a valid license in order to do so. By party we mean organizations like children’s group homes, associations, corporations, agencies, or persons. Without a valid license, no advertising or facilitators can be used to solicit money, place a child, or provide any other assistance.
However, as long as they aren’t compensated in any way for their assistance, physicians, attorneys, and other people can help. They can help find potential adoption parents. But there are certain things that anyone who helps you is NOT allowed to do:
- Advertise on social media that they can provide child-placing help to people
- Advertise on signage of any kind that they can provide child-placing services. That includes cards and devices.
- Advertise on the outside of buildings, street poles, etc. that they can provide child-placing services.
You get the idea. And remember, anyone who helps you cannot receive monetary compensation. Or be rewarded anything of monetary value. It’s illegal.
5. How Do Birth Parents Consent To An Adoption?
24 hours after giving birth, the birth mother may give adoption consent. Not before.
A judge with proper jurisdiction must sign the consent. In some cases, the judge may appoint another person to take consent. If an agency is granted legal custody by the judge, they may authorized the birth mother’s consent.
6. Is The Birth Mother The Only Person Required To Consent?
Sometimes, yes. But not in every case. When applicable, here are other people who are required to give consent to legally validate the adoption.
- If the birth mother is legally married, the spouse must consent.
- If the child is 12 or older (and they have full mental capacity), they must consent.
- If, before the birth mother consented to adoption, a man filed a voluntary declaration of paternity, he must consent.
- If, before the birth mother consented to adoption, a man was declared by a judge as the biological father, he must consent.
- If the birth mother intends to have the child adopted by the unmarried biological father, he must consent. He must also:
a. initiate paternity proceedings
b. acknowledge his paternity
c. agree to develop a substantial relationship with the child d. agree to provide support to the child
More Concerning Unmarried Biological Fathers
- If the child’s birth was the result of a sexual offense, his consent is not required.
- If he fails to initiate paternity proceedings, his consent is not required.
- If his declaration of paternity is revoked, his consent is not required.
- It is possible for an interested party to petition that the unmarried biological father’s rights be terminated. If the court agrees, his consent is not required.
7. Can There Be A Situation Where Parental Consent Is Not Needed?
Yes. If the child is 18 or older.
There are other possible scenarios where parental rights could be previously terminated. In these cases, a teen does not need parental consent to be adopted.
8. Can The Consent of Birth Parents Become Irrevocable?
Yes. Once it’s signed, it’s irrevocable. A birth mother cannot undo her signed consent.
9. What Adoption Rights Does An Unmarried Father Have?
In addition to the information in Section 6, unmarried fathers can file a notice to be notified of adoption proceedings. They must do this through the Office of Vital Records.
However, if another man is already adjudicated to be the father, the unmarried father cannot file this notice. Not through an adoption attorney St George Utah or anyone else.
If a man declares himself to be the father after adoption consent has already been signed and executed, he cannot petition a declaration of paternity. If they adoption consent has not yet been signed, he can.
Adoption Attorney St George Utah (Adoption Law Explained) – Part 2
Part 2 answers questions about post-placement and home study.
10. What Does The Home Study Process In Utah Entail?
It entails a criminal records check for every state you’ve lived it in the last 5 years. This is to ensure that you have none of the following in your background:
- child abuse
- child neglect
- child dependence
You’ll also be fingerprinted and undergo assessments concerning your biographical information. Some of the things assessed include:
- behavior assessment
- financial and health status verification
- home safety assessment
- parenting skills assessment
- verification that you and your spouse are legally married
- assessment to determine the type of child best suited for you and your household
11. Does The Home Study Process Include People Other Than You And Your Spouse?
Yes. If you have other adults living in the home, the home study process applies to them as well.
12. Who Conducts The Home Study?
A family relations expert approved by the court. The person can also be a court-approved expert in family counseling, psychology, family therapy, marriage, or social work.
If the child has special needs, the person conducting the home study will be sent from one of two places:
- a child-placing agency
- Department of Human Services
This is because a special needs child being adopted is usually part of a public child welfare agency.
13. Can A Home Study Be Refused?
Yes. Home studies are not approved in every case. In almost all cases where it isn’t, it’s usually because the person has a felony constituting one of the following:
- domestic violence
- aggravated robbery, burglary, arson, assault
- a sex offense
- child abuse homicide
- child endangerment
- disabled child abuse or neglect
- domestic violence in the presence of a child
- child abuse
- drug-related offense
(Some of these are on a within the last 5 years basis.)
14. Do Home Studies Need To Be Renewed?
Not unless the family reapplies, in which case a new home study would need to be completed.
15. What Is A Post-Placement Study And What Are The Requirements?
It’s an evaluation that happens after the home study and after the final adoption hearing has taken place. The purpose is to provide a final determination that the placement is or isn’t in the best interest of the child.
If there are any allegations in the adoption petition, the post-placement study verifies these as well. An adoption attorney St George Utah can assist in this process.
An official child and family plan will be developed as part of this study. The child and their adoptive parents will be supervised for the first 6 or more months.
16. Are Home Studies Different When Relatives Or Stepparents Are Adopting?
In these cases, home studies aren’t required. But in some cases, the court requests that a home study still be conducted.
17. Are Home Studies Different During Interstate Adoptions?
If the child being adopted is in located in a different state, home studies are required as usual. In these cases, the studies must comply with whatever the ICPC states. (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children).
Adoption Attorney St George Utah (Adoption Law Explained) – Conclusion
Here are websites with more information:
Feel free to contact us here at Ruesch & Reeve if you have questions. We’d be happy to talk to you.