Helping You Unite Your Family in Daviess County and Surrounding Areas
The adoption process is a long and confusing road. There shouldn’t be an insurmountable hinderance to uniting your family, however. Our attorneys at Bamberger & Brancato, PSC can help you navigate this extensive legal process to settle all the relevant adoption paperwork and legal matters. We help a wide variety of parents with adoption, and we have experience handling:
- Married and unmarried couple adoptions
- Stepparent adoptions
- Same-sex parent adoptions
Kentucky adoption laws can be confusing for first-time and even repeat adoptive parents. Completing an adoption process on your own could cause delays due to application errors or missed information. That is why it is important to have an adoption attorney on your side; contact Bamberger & Brancato, PSC to get started on your adoption today.
Who Can Adopt in Kentucky?
Any adult over 18 years old who is a Kentucky resident or who has resided in Kentucky for 12 months immediately before filing can legally adopt in the state. There are a few specific rules depending on the adopters’ situation, however. For instance, a married couple seeking to adopt must petition jointly and both sign the petition (except when it is a stepparent adoption). This may be waived by the court, though, if the requirement would deny the child a suitable home. Note that unmarried couples cannot petition to adopt together; only one partner may be the petitioner.
In Kentucky, there are not prohibitions against same-sex joint adoptions, and they may pursue adoption as any other married couple. A single same-sex individual can also adopt a non-biological child. However, same-sex or other unmarried couples are not permitted to pursue stepparent adoption (or otherwise adoption of the partner’s biological child).
Steps to Adopting
Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services is the state agency responsible for adoption services in the state. Generally, the steps for adoption depend on the particular type of adoption being pursued, but an important step is to enlist the help of an attorney to ensure the legal side runs smoothly. After all, you understandably want to unite your family as soon as possible without any legal complexities.
One important requirement of the adoption process is the home study. Everyone who seeks to adopt has to complete a home study, also called a Family Preparation Assessment program, which assesses the family situation and the fitness of the prospective adoptive parents. After the assessment, the Office of Health and Family Services will decide whether to recommend the individuals as prospective adoptive parents.
If the child has biological parents, it is also required by law to seek the consent of the child’s mother. If paternity is established, the child’s father must also give their consent or sign a paternity affidavit. In some cases, the adoption agency may be required to give consent. Be aware that in the case of stepparent adoption, it will be necessary to terminate the parental rights of the other biological parent (more below). An attorney can help collect the appropriate information for this process.
After the home study and appropriate consent requirements are obtained, the prospective parent(s) may then file a petition for adoption with the clerk of the probate court where they live, where the adoption agency is located, or where the child lives.
After the parents adopt the child, the court will determine a period of supervision by a state or private agency to observe the child’s adjustment to their new home. Once this is deemed satisfactory, the parents will be granted permanent legal custody of the child. Most adoptions are finalized within 1 year from when the child was placed in their new home.
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Termination of Parental Rights
As mentioned above, one important step in stepparent adoption is the termination of parental rights. This is because adopting a stepchild involves obtaining the permission of both biological parents, and the law establishes that a child may only have 2 legal parents.
In some cases, the other parent may choose to voluntarily terminate their rights to the child, perhaps because there is little relationship between them or this would relieve them of their court-ordered financial obligations.
In other cases, though, a parent may not so easily terminate their parental rights. Note that states will not terminate their rights without reason and will likely only terminate their parental rights if the parent is proven to be unfit, is not the true biological parent, or has in essence abandoned the child. A parent can be found to be unfit for a few reasons, such as if they:
- are shown to be abusive or neglectful;
- are or have been incarcerated;
- have an unsafe home environment for the child.
Additionally, parental abandonment means the parent has not spent any time with the child or paid child support in a long time, usually 1 year.
Questions? Contact Bamberger & Brancato, PSC Today.
If you are a prospective parent seeking to adopt in Kentucky, do not hesitate to reach out to our legal team at Bamberger & Brancato, PSC for legal support today. We have significant experience working with parents on adoption, from married and unmarried to stepparent to same-sex parent adoptions. We will handle the legal side while you prepare to welcome a child into your family.
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