Family Law Attorneys Guiding Individuals in Nashville
Feeling like a parent and being legally recognized as a parent can be two different things. When stepparents want to adopt their children, they must follow proper procedures to receive court approval. The family law lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC can assist Nashville residents and others in pursuing legal rights to their children through adoption. Our firm has experience in all aspects of these matters, and we are dedicated to helping families function cohesively by ensuring the proper legal formalities are observed. MHPS, PLLC represents clients throughout Williamson and Davidson Counties who require aid with family law issues.
Adoption Requirements in Tennessee
In Tennessee, all adoptions are treated the same in terms of the process and requirements that need to be followed, although there are some exceptions for stepparents and other relatives. Before a stepparent can adopt a minor child, the biological parent’s parental rights must be terminated. Often, stepparent adoption comes about through a mutual agreement between both biological parents as well as the stepparent. In many situations, the biological parent terminating his or her parental rights has not had an active role in a child’s life and is therefore ready to relinquish his or her legal title as a parent. The biological parent terminating his or her rights may do so with a written statement of consent.
However, sometimes a biological parent is absent and therefore unable to consent, or the biological parent may refuse to give up parental rights even though he or she is unfit to be a parent. If a biological parent refuses to give consent to the adoption, his or her rights may be terminated once proof of justification is shown. Under Tennessee law, statutory grounds for terminating parental rights include a parent’s willful failure to provide monetary support or visit a child for a period of four months before filing a petition of termination. Petitioning on either ground requires a showing of clear and convincing evidence that the termination of rights and the subsequent adoption would be in the child’s best interest. Once the termination is granted, a stepparent may adopt the child.
By statute, all prospective adoptions must undergo a six-month waiting period between filing and finalization by a judge. Home studies are also required. However, since a stepparent adoption is classified as an adoption by a relative, courts will and often do waive waiting period and home study requirements if requested. When a stepparent adoption is formal and final, a legal parent-child relationship is created, along with all of the rights and obligations bestowed in a biological parent-child relationship.
Discuss a Child Custody or Support Matter with a Nashville Lawyer
If you have played a pivotal role in raising your stepchild, you may already consider yourself his or her parent, and not being recognized as such under the law can be frustrating and hurtful. Taking the step to formally adopt a stepchild is not done lightly, and it requires careful consideration as well as planning for the legal process. At Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC, our child custody and support attorneys can guide individuals in Nashville and elsewhere in Tennessee through the entirety of the adoption proceedings, making sure careful attention is paid in all stages of filing. Our firm also represents people in communities such as Franklin, East Nashville, Brentwood, and West Meade, assisting them with all aspects involved in a family law matter. Call us at 615-800-7096 or contact us online for a consultation.