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Is It Possible To Reverse An Adoption In Arizona?

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

Is It Possible To Reverse An Adoption In Arizona?

Adoption can often be a long process and it can take months or years to complete. After a court finalizes an adoption, adoptive parents can often breathe a sigh of relief that their family is legally solidified.

However, the question often arises from both birth parents and adoptive parents – can an adoption be reversed after it is finalized by the courts?

A petition for a reversal of an adoption can cause extreme stress on adoptive parents who believe they are now the legal parents of a child. If someone has requested a reversal of an adoption, it is critical that an experienced adoption attorney who understands reversal laws in Arizona is called immediately.

The following are the rare circumstances under which an adoption may be reversed.

Strict Requirements in Arizona

Some state laws simply have set time periods during which a birth parent can revoke their consent to an adoption. These time periods can range from 72 hours in Nevada to one year in the state of Washington.

Other states, such as Nebraska and Oklahoma, allow a court to revoke an adoption if it finds that the adoption is not in the best interests of the child. Arizona, however, only allows a reversal in very specific circumstances, including the following:

Issues regarding consent

There are some situations in which a birth parent may not have properly given consent to the adoption when such consent should have been required under the law.

For example, a birth mother may claim that the birth father abandoned the child long ago and so the court may rule that consent is not needed. In reality, the other parent may have simply not received adequate notice of the adoption.

The law has specific requirements for providing notice and if a parent fails to comply with those laws, the other parent may request that the adoption be set aside so they can be heard by the court.

Error by the court

Judges can make mistake and misapply the law in some cases. If a court rules that a parent abandoned their child or that consent is not necessary for another reason and there is sufficient evidence to prove otherwise, the non-consenting parent may appeal the decision.

For instance, a court may again rule that a parent legally abandoned a child and thus no consent is required. If that parent provides evidence that they tried to contact the child within the past two years, the abandonment ruling may be deemed erroneous by an appellate court and the parent would need to consent for the adoption to remain.

Fraud, duress, or misrepresentation

Any fraudulent tactics to obtain consent for an adoption from a birth parent can render the consent to be void. This can include making threats or placing the parent under other types of duress to convince them to sign over consent.

In addition, if false information is provided to a birth parent or there are other misrepresentations about the situation or adoptive process, consent may be reversed.

Arizona limits the cases in which one can reverse an adoption because it is recognized how difficult a reversal can be on the adoptive parents.

However, the state also recognizes that if consent was not provided voluntarily when it was legally necessary, that birth parent should not be deprived of their parental rights when it is not otherwise justified.

One way to help prevent the possibility of a reversal of an adoption is to be represented by an experienced adoption attorney throughout the process.

A lawyer can recognize when the circumstances regarding consent may not be right and can work to make sure consent given is valid and legal before an adoption is finalized. This is only one of many ways a skilled adoption law firm can help.

Consult with an Arizona Adoption Attorney for Assistance Today

The entire adoption process can be emotional for both birth parents and adopting parents. At the law firm of Stuart & Blackwell, our goal is to help you accomplish what is best for you and the child involved. We represent parents on both sides of an adoption and strive to make the process as stress-free and successful as possible for you.

Our Arizona adoption lawyers thoroughly understand all adoption laws and requirements and how to apply them to your set of circumstances. Please call our office at 480-409-3630 to learn more about how we can help you with an adoption.

Important FAQ’s For Birth Mothers Considering Adoption

Posted by on Jun 8, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

Important FAQ’s For Birth Mothers Considering Adoption

The decision to place a child for adoption is one of the biggest decisions someone can make in their lifetime.

It is not surprising, then, that many expectant mothers who are considering adoption or have made the decision to move forward with an adoption have many questions about the process, their rights, and other issues related to adoption in Arizona.

Here are some answers to some of the questions we frequently hear from pregnant women who are considering adoption.

Will I Be Able to Choose My Child’s Adoptive Family?

The first concern that many expect mothers have is whether they will be able to choose the family their biological child ends up with.

While it is not necessary to do so, they certainly can and have the option of going through adoptive family profiles until they find a family who they believe will be a good fit.

There are plenty of families out there looking to adopt, so there is a good chance that they will be able to find one that meets all of their criteria.

Can I Talk to the Family Before the Adoption Actually Occurs?

Yes! Birth mothers and adoptive families can communicate as much or as little as they would like.

In many cases, communication between birth mothers and potential adoptive families begins through emails and phone calls to allow both parties to get to know each other and see whether they want to proceed with the adoption.

If the birth mother prefers not to communicate with the adoptive family, they can pursue a confidential adoption in which their identity will remain unknown to the adoptive family.

How Much Will It Cost Me to Place My Baby for Adoption?

Many birth mothers are concerned about the costs associated with placing their baby for adoption or hiring an adoption attorney. Typically, adoption does not cost birth mothers anything and all medical, legal, and counseling services are covered.

In addition, once they are matched with a family, they will be eligible for assistance with their living expenses, such as rent, transportation, utilities, and food.

Is Adoption Safe for My Child?

The adoption process is intentionally slow and requires multiple levels of review. While no one is able to predict the future, every step along the way is designed to ensure that birth mothers and adoptive parents are fully aware of all of the relevant information and are able to make fully-informed decisions.

In addition, the state needs to certify adoptive parents and conduct a home study that includes an assessment of their financial situation, physical health, and criminal background check. These checks are intended to ensure that all adopted children go to loving, stable homes.

Is Adoption Reversible?

Typically, once and adoption is finalized, there is no way to reverse it. Some circumstances under which it may be possible to invalidate an adoption include if the decision to place a baby for adoption was the result of fraud or duress, if the court made an error of law, or if the birth father was not properly notified.

Do I Need an Attorney to Place My Child for Adoption?

There is no law in Arizona that requires women who are considering placing their baby for adoption to retain an attorney. With that said, doing so can only provide a benefit and carries no risk, so there is no reason not to retain an attorney as soon as someone realizes that placing their child for adoption may be an option.

Some of the specific ways that a Phoenix adoption lawyer can help include the following:

  • Explain the adoption process and discuss specific needs
  • Arrange for prenatal care
  • Arrange for financial assistance if necessary
  • Arrange for counseling
  • Work with the birth mother in determining the type of adoptive family they are looking for and help them to review profiles of potential families
  • Make arrangement for the delivery of the baby
  • Ensure that the birth mother is aware of all of her rights throughout the process

Call Stuart & Blackwell Today to Speak with a Phoenix Adoption Attorney

If you are pregnant and considering giving you baby up for adoption, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. Our Phoenix adoption lawyers work closely with birth mothers and do everything possible to ensure that they are fully informed of their rights and that the adoption process goes as smoothly as possible.

To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, call Stuart & Blackwell today at 480-409-3630 or send us an email through our online contact form.

How To Get the Most Out Of A First Meeting With A Birth Mother

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

How To Get the Most Out Of A First Meeting With A Birth Mother

One of the most exciting (and often nerve-wracking) experiences during the adoption process is meeting with an expectant mother who is considering giving her child up for adoption.

These meetings can take place in person or over the phone, and often involve both parties getting to know each other in order to determine whether they are a good fit. As a prospective adoptive parent, it is important to understand that the birth mother is often just as nervous as you are.

Adoption is one of the most consequential decisions that people can make in their lives, whether you are choosing to adopt or to place your baby for adoption, and the fact that the parties to the adoption are often strangers makes for an extremely stressful and emotionally-charged environment in many cases.

As a result, it is important to take steps to make sure that the meeting goes smoothly and is fruitful for everyone involved. Here are some things you can do as a prospective adoptive parent to get the most out of your first meeting with an expectant mother.

Prepare a List of Questions

You should be sure to take the time to prepare a thorough list of questions you want to ask the birth mother. These often include the following:

  • How do your parents feel about your pregnancy and your decision to place your baby for adoption?
  • How does the birth father feel about the adoption?
  • When is the baby due?
  • How have your OB appointments been going?
  • Is this your first pregnancy?
  • How are you feeling?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What encouraged you to consider adoption as the best plan for your child?

When asking these questions, be aware that the way you word things is very important. You may have preconceived notions about people who place their children for adoption, and certain questions may come across as offensive or judgmental if you are not careful.

For this reason, it is a good idea to have the questions you plan to ask reviewed by a third party, such as your lawyer. Some questions you have should be given to your lawyer – let your attorney find out some of the sensitive information for you so that you don’t have to have an awkward conversation with the birth mom that may prevent you from bonding and connecting.

Be Prepared to Answer Questions

Keep in mind that your first meeting is an interview for both sides. As a result, you should be prepared to answer questions that you may not ordinarily expect to hear from someone you just met.

Generally speaking, you will have already provided basic information about what you do for a living, your religious views, where you live, and your hobbies and interests before your first meeting, but a birth mother may ask much more personal questions that would ordinarily seem inappropriate.

Here are examples of some questions that an expectant mother may ask you at your first meeting:

  • Do you have other children or do you plan to in the future?
  • What made you want to adopt? • What is the rest of your family like?
  • Was anyone in your family adopted? • Do you have friends who were adopted?
  • What is your neighborhood like?
  • Do you want your child or children to follow in your footsteps, either professionally or educationally?
  • What are your thoughts on having a continuing relationship with me after the adoption?
  • What was your childhood like?
  • What are your parents like?
  • What does your family think about your decision to pursue adoption?
  • Do you have a plan about how you will explain adoption to your child?

Prioritize

Keep in mind that your first meeting with a birth mother who is considering placing her child for adoption will certainly not be the last if the adoption ultimately occurs.

For this reason, you should prioritize what you want to discuss and perhaps leave more sensitive or topics for when you and the birth mother are more comfortable with one another.

Decide what issues need to be discussed in your first meeting and try to stick to those topics if possible.

Contact Stuart & Blackwell to Speak with an Arizona Adoption Lawyer Today

If you are considering adoption a child, it is a good idea to discuss your circumstances with an experienced lawyer. At Stuart & Blackwell, we assist at every stage of the adoption process and will make sure that your adoption goes as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Should any issues arise along the way, we will zealously advocate for your rights and work hard to obtain the best resolution possible. To schedule a consultation with one our attorneys, call Stuart & Blackwell today at 480-420-2900 or contact us online.

What Happens At An Adoption Home Study?

Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

What Happens At An Adoption Home Study?

The adoption process can be complex and there may be many steps before an adoption is finalized. One important step is the home study, which is generally required unless the individual is a step-parent, grandparent, or another family member of the child.

The idea of a home study can be nerve-wracking for anyone. However, it is important to realize that home studies do not have to be so stressful and the guidance of an experienced adoption attorney can help to make sure the home visit runs smoothly.

The Home Study Process

While a home study may seem to refer to one visit to a residence, it can actually be an investigative process during which a licensed social worker examines the suitability of the adoptive relationship.

This can involve many different factors, including medical conditions, potential criminal backgrounds, financial stability, as well as the home environment. After examining all relevant factors, the social worker will put together a report for the court to advocate for the adoption or cite reasons why the adoption may not be beneficial.

Most social workers will tell the adopter whether they are recommending them for certification or not before they file the report. To begin the process, many documents are needed including birth certificates, marriage licenses, medical records, background checks, financial records, and more.

Having the assistance of an adoption law firm can help to ensure that everything needed is present to make the home study process go as smoothly as possible.

Another important part of the home study is to have letters of reference submitted on the adopter’s behalf. It is important to carefully consider who should furnish these letters, as they should be genuine and honest.

These letters should address how well the writer knows the adopter, discuss their general character, whether they believe the individuals in question should be adoptive parents, and any doubts they may have as to their suitability.

While these letters can be brief, they can have an impact on the process. One should always discuss who is writing these letters of reference with an adoption attorney before having them submitted.

While much of the home study process involves examining records and letters, it also does involve a visit to the actual home. Many people agonize over this visit and think any small detail may disqualify them from being adoptive parents.

In fact, the home visit is to ensure that the child will be in a safe and stable environment on physical, emotional, and financial levels. Social workers should understand that no one is perfect so there is no need to present a perfect home environment.

Discussing how the visit will go with an attorney can help to relieve some of the stress associated with an upcoming visit. Your lawyer can also help you connect with a social worker who is professional, trustworthy, and who can be an advocate for you to become adoptive parents.

The Home Study Report

Arizona has specific requirements for what must be presented to the court in the home study report, which includes an assessment of the following:

● Social history

● Moral fitness

● Any religious background

● Financial situations

● Mental and physical health of the parents

● Any legal history involving mistreatment of children or certain criminal offenses

● Any other facts deemed relevant to the individual’s fitness as a parent

If the court finds an individual suitable to adopt based on the report, it will certify them as a prospective adoptive parent in Arizona.

In addition, after a child has been placed in your home, the social worker will need to visit and report on the adjustment to the home and other relevant factors. Such visits can take place every three months until the adoption is final.

Updating a Home Study Like many things in life, home studies have an expiration date, which is 18 months after you are certified in Arizona.

It can take time to find the right match for a family and our attorneys can help to apply for an extension or undergo another home study if needed.

In addition, if there are any major life changes before an adoption is final, it is important to report them as an update to the home study.

Contact an Experienced Arizona Adoption Attorney Today

The home study is only one part of your journey to becoming an adoptive parent.

At Stuart & Blackwell, we have represented many prospective parents through this process and can help reduce the stress you experience when facing a home study.

If you are considering adoption, please call us at (480) 409-3630 today.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer for An Adoption?

Posted by on Apr 19, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

Why Do I Need a Lawyer for An Adoption?

Adopting a child is one of the biggest decisions you can make in your lifetime. Adoption confers all the legal rights and responsibilities of parenthood to another person.

Once you have made the decision to adopt a child, it is normal to want to have the process go as quickly as possible. Many prospective adoptive parents become frustrated when they learn that the process may take months or years.

It is easy to become frustrated when legal delays make it last even longer than it could have. The fact that adoption takes a significant amount of time is largely because it should not be entered into lightly – both from the perspective of the adoptive parents and the biological parents.

It is a constitutional right to parent your own children. That right cannot be taken away from an individual easily, nor is the decision to give that right to another person easy.

In addition, the state has a legitimate interest in making sure that people who adopt are suitable parents who will be able to provide an environment in which children will thrive.

Fortunately for individuals or couples who would like to adopt a child, an attorney can be of significant help throughout the process. Here are some of the most important ways the representation and counsel of an attorney can help people during the adoption process.

Explain the Process to You in Detail

Adopting a child is not as simple as finding a birth mother who is seeking to place her child for adoption and signing some paperwork. There are several steps that need to occur before parental rights can be transferred from one person to another.

When you meet with an adoption attorney, he or she will explain the entire process of adoption in Arizona to you in detail and explain the kinds of issues that may arise along the way. By having a big-picture understanding of the process, you can know what to expect and better prepare yourself for any legal or procedural hurdles that may arise.

Guide You through the Certification Process

In order to be eligible to adopt a child in Arizona, a court must first certify you as acceptable to adopt.

This process consists of many steps, including submitting an application to the court, going through adoption orientation and training (if you are adopting a child through foster care), and submitting a formal home study to the court for a Judge to look at a number of things, including the following:

  • Your financial situation
  • Your references and social history
  • Your moral history
  • Whether you have been or are the subject of any court action regarding child abuse
  • Your physical and mental health
  • Whether you can pass a fingerprint-based criminal history records check
  • Any other relevant information

This investigation is usually very thorough, and any evidence that indicates that you may not be a fit parent will likely be uncovered and slow the process down.

For example, if you have had a DUI, you will likely need to submit additional paperwork to the agency conducting your certification investigation detailing the circumstances of your arrest and any legal action that was taken against you.

In these kinds of situations, the advice of an attorney can be invaluable. To continue with the above example regarding DUI, when you first meet with a lawyer regarding adoption and disclose that you have had a DUI, an attorney can help you take steps to “get out ahead” of the issue before it comes up.

For example, your lawyer may advise that you undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation or submit to random testing to establish that you are not currently using drugs or alcohol.

Represent You in Court Should Any Issues Arise

In some instances, adoption cases go to court. When this occurs, it is essential to have an attorney familiar with Arizona adoption law and procedure representing you.

When you retain an lawyer early in the process, he or she will already be familiar with the facts of your case and ready to advocate for your position, maximizing the chances that you will obtain a favorable outcome.

Call Stuart & Blackwell Today to Discuss Your Case

If you are considering adopting a child, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. A lawyer will thoroughly evaluate your situation and make sure that the process of expanding your family goes as smoothly and quickly as possible.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call Stuart & Blackwell today at 480-409-3630.

FAQ: Arizona Adoption Essential Questions Answered

Posted by on Apr 8, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

FAQ: Arizona Adoption Essential Questions Answered

Am I Eligible to Adopt?

 

When a person or a couple first begins to think about adoption, the first question they often want to have answered is whether they are eligible to do so.

This is especially true for individuals who are single or are in a long-term domestic partnership or in non-traditional relationships. Under Arizona law, any adult over the age of 18 is eligible to adopt, whether they are married, unmarried, or legally separated.

In addition, a married couple (traditional or same-sex) may adopt a child or children jointly.

 

What is Required to Adopt a Child in Arizona?

 

While anyone over 18 is eligible to adopt in Arizona, a person or couple who wishes to adopt must first be certified as acceptable to adopt by a court. In order to become certified, prospective adoptive parents must:

  • Submit a written application
  • Complete adoption training and orientation (only required if adopting through the foster system)
  • Undergo a certification investigation that considers issues such as the adoptive parent or parents’ finances, physical and mental health, moral fitness, social history and references, criminal history, any court action regarding child abuse, and anything else that may be relevant to their ability to parent.

How Long Does It Take to Adopt in Arizona?

 

The amount of time it will take will take to adopt a child in Arizona depends on a number of factors.

For example, if you have very specific requirements regarding the characteristics of the child you would like to adopt, it may make the process significantly longer.

Similarly, if the certification investigation uncovers facts that tend to show that you or your partner may not acceptable as adoptive parents, it may result in substantial delays. Sometimes even if your requirements are reasonable and you have no problems with your certification, it can just take time to find a match with a potential birth mom.

The best way to ensure that your adoption goes as smoothly as possible is to consult with an attorney before even starting the process. A lawyer will thoroughly evaluate your case and help you avoid any issues that may arise at any point during the process.

In addition, should issues come up, having an attorney familiar with your case will significantly increase the chances that your case is resolved as favorably as possible.

An attorney can also provide you with tips and advice on how to improve your chances of being selected by a birth mom.

 

Do Family Members Have to Go through the Same Process as Non-Family Members?

 

No. Under Arizona law, a child’s uncle, aunt, adult sibling, grandparent, or great-grandparent who has lived with a child for at least six months may adopt the child without first going through the certification process.

In addition, stepparents who have been legally married to the child’s biological parent for at least a year and who have resided with the child and the parent for at least six months also do not have to be certified.

In both cases, however, the prospective adoptive parents will need to go through criminal background fingerprinting and a central registry check with the Department of Child Safety.

 

Does a Father Need to Consent to an Adoption?

 

In Arizona, biological fathers must consent to an adoption if he was married to the birth mother in the 10 months preceding the child’s birth or if the mother names him as the father on the birth certificate at the time of birth.

If the birth father is identified, he is entitled to receive a Potential Fathers Notice that provides him notice of his rights and specifically his 30-day time frame to take the necessary steps to establish paternity.

If he does not take the necessary proactive steps within 30 days of being served with his Notice, his consent is not needed for the adoption to proceed.

If the birth father’s identity is unknown or his whereabouts are unknown the notice can be published and the adoption may still proceed without his consent.

 

What is the Role of an Attorney in an Adoption?

 

Adoption is an extremely complicated process, and there are opportunities at every stage for it to be derailed. Your adoption attorney lawyer will work with you every step along the way to make sure that your adoption goes as smoothly as possible.

Some of the specific ways in which a lawyer can help you adopt a child include the following:

  • Identify your options and explain the adoption process to you
  • Fill out and submit any necessary paperwork
  • Help you find a match with a potential birth mom
  • Identify any issues that may arise and advise you regarding steps you can take to mitigate the effect that they will have on the outcome of your adoption
  • Represent you in court, should it become necessary

 

Contact Stuart & Blackwell Today to Discuss Your Adoption Case

 

If you are considering adoption in Arizona, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. The lawyers of Stuart & Blackwell are experienced adoption lawyers who can answer any questions you may have about the process and can help ensure that your adoption goes as quickly as smoothly as possible.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at (480) 409-3630 or contact us online.

Four Things to Consider About Adoption

Posted by on Mar 17, 2017 in Adoption, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Four Things to Consider About Adoption

There is no consideration more integral or important to your life than that of bringing a new baby into the world, and adoption is an especially moving manifestation of this endeavor.

While adoption has, in some ways, become more flexible, it’s also become more legally complicated, and there are several important issues that you should seriously consider on your journey toward adoption.

Consult with an Attorney Who Focuses on Adoption Law

Adoption is an important and complicated decision. You need an attorney who will let you know what to expect, will guide you through the process, will prepare you for the adoption agency interview, and will inform you about eligibility requirements.

There’s so much to consider, but an experienced adoption attorney will ensure that you are comfortable with and confident in your decision to adopt.

Understand Your State’s Eligibility Requirements

Different states have different eligibility requirements, and it’s imperative that you understand how they relate to you.

Before you can petition the court to adopt in Arizona, you must first be certified as acceptable to adopt by the court in the county in which you are preparing to adopt. These guidelines only become more complicated when you are looking to adopt outside the state. You need expert legal counsel to help you avoid and overcome obstacles while you navigate through the adoption journey.

Private Adoptions Offer a Different Approach

Private adoptions often follow a different trajectory than agency adoptions, and in Arizona these always go through an attorney.

Your attorney will explain the differences between the two processes, will help you choose the best path for you, and will provide integral guidance throughout your adoption process.

In some ways, private adoptions can allow more flexibility – especially regarding birth parent and adoptive parent interaction – than the agency approach, but in other important ways, they can impose greater limitations. This is a topic that you should explore thoroughly with your attorney.

Consider Open Adoption

The courts sometime consider forms of open adoption for older adoptees. This often includes the child’s ability to maintain ongoing contact with specific blood relatives when the court deems that it’s in the child’s best interests.

Since the child’s welfare is everyone’s top concern, the judge will carefully weigh any such options when making important decisions regarding open adoption. It’s crucial that you explore what this might mean for you, as the adoptive parent, with your attorney.

If You Are Considering Adopting in Arizona, Call Stuart & Blackwell Today

Adoption is a beautiful choice, and we can help you with the process. If you are considering adopting a child, it’s in your best interests to speak with a lawyer with considerable expertise in adoption.

At Stuart & Blackwell, we have the experience and the dedication to help you adopt successfully, so call us at 480-420-2900 or contact us today.

Four Things to Ask Your Attorney Before An Adoption

Posted by on Mar 1, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

Four Things to Ask Your Attorney Before An Adoption

Adopting a baby is one of the single greatest joys of any adoptive parent’s life. It’s therefore imperative that you do your homework before choosing an attorney to assist and guide you through this complicated process. The right attorney can help you comfortably navigate the adoption journey with confidence.

Ask about Their Legal Practice

Adoptions are unique legal matters that call for highly specific expertise; it is in your best interests to seek an attorney who focuses at least part of their practice on adoptions.

Additionally, choose an adoption attorney with whom you feel comfortable working and whose values regarding adoption align with your own – someone who listens to you, thoroughly answers your questions, is sensitive to your concerns and feelings, and is available and responsive.

Talking to other adoptive parents who’ve been through the process and might have attorney recommendations is a great place to start. Adoption is too critical an endeavor to leave to legal chance.

Ask about the Services They Provide

Ask your prospective adoption attorney about how comprehensive the firm’s adoption-related services are:

  • Which services do they provide and are there any that they don’t provide?
  • Will they actively help you in finding an adoption option? • Do they handle all the necessary legal work – if not, why not
  • Will they match you to a birth mother?

Ask about the Inherent Risks of Adoption

Adoptions are not risk free, and they can become expensive. It’s imperative that you speak openly with prospective attorneys about these risks – both financial and emotional.

Make sure that you feel comfortable with the information provided and that it aligns with your values and your adoption budget. An attorney who won’t openly discuss the facts and costs of a prospective adoption is not a good bet – keep looking.

Ask about the Process

A good adoption attorney should be able to provide you with a thorough outline of the adoption process and should be able to explain it to you in a way that you can relate to.

The attorney that you ultimately choose should not only be knowledgeable about the entire adoption process but should help you feel comfortable within that process.

If You Are Considering Adopting in Arizona, Contact Stuart & Blackwell Today

At Stuart & Blackwell, we know how emotionally fraught the adoption process can be, and we are here to help. We’ve made it our mission to ensure that you feel comfortable and confident throughout the adoption journey.

We specialize in adoption law, and we have the experience and the commitment to help you adopt your baby. So contact us or call us at 480-420-2900 today.

How Do I know If I Am Eligible To Adopt?

Posted by on Feb 15, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

How Do I know If I Am Eligible To Adopt?

The adoption process is a lengthy one and there are a number of issues that may pop up at any time to derail your planned adoption.

We regularly receive inquiries from prospective parents asking whether they should even consider initiating the process because of past criminal charges, ongoing financial constraints or any other number of issues. There are, however, very few disqualifying preconditions.

Qualifications

Any legal, adult resident of Arizona is potentially eligible to adopt or foster parent a child. You can be single, married, divorced or widowed.

It doesn’t matter if you rent or own your home, and you must be at least 18 years of age to adopt a child or 21 to become a foster parent. From there, procedures differ depending on whether you want to enroll in Arizona’s foster parent program or you want to adopt a child.

If adoption is the route you choose, regulations vary depending on whether the child resides in Arizona, out of state, or out of the country.

Background Checks

Your adoption home study must be completed by a licensed agency that will conduct an extensive background check and home inspection before the final home study report will be submitted to the court for review and hopefully certification.

The background checks will be conducted of any adult living in the home and not just of the adoptive parents. While rules differ for blood relatives, step relatives and foster parents, adoptive parents generally must be able to obtain clearance following a fingerprint-based analysis of federal and state records.

Red Flags

Under state law, there are dozens of criminal offenses that would preclude you or any individual in the adoptive parent’s home from obtaining that clearance. Crimes committed against children or other vulnerable members of the population, violent felonies, and sex crimes will automatically void your eligibility to be placed on the state’s adoption registry.

It doesn’t matter if you were convicted in Arizona or in another state. Further, there is a secondary list of over 60 other offenses – ranging from shoplifting to manslaughter – that may also prevent you from obtaining that clearance; however, you will also be given an opportunity to explain the offense to the judge and how you have changed since that conviction.

You can tell the judge what you have learned from the experience. If you are any other resident of the prospective household have been convicted of a crime on this list, you may use this mechanism allowing you to petition for a “good cause” exception.

Even if you’ve never been convicted of a crime that would prevent you from obtaining a fingerprint clearance card, there’s no guarantee that an adoption agency will make a recommendation to a state court that a judge issue a certification.

Many prospective adoptive couples also believe that there is an income requirement to be certified to adopt. There is no income threshold. The court will look at both your income and expenses, assets and debts, before deciding about whether you can provide for a child.

Aside from the background checks, your social worker will conduct at least two visits to a potential home to evaluate the home environment. There are several factors evaluated during this process aimed at identifying parents of suitable moral and financial fitness that would make good matches for children in need of adoptive parents.

There are many traps and pitfalls in the adoption process. A prior criminal conviction may keep you from being certified, but it doesn’t have to. We have years of experience advising and assisting parents through this lengthy but rewarding experience.

Call Stuart & Blackwell Today to Speak with an Arizona Adoption Attorney

If you are considering an adoption, you should speak with an attorney as soon as you can.

To schedule a consultation with our adoption lawyers, call Stuart & Blackwell today at 480-420-2900 or send us an email through our online contact form.

Relative and Stepparent Adoption in Arizona

Posted by on Feb 1, 2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

Relative and Stepparent Adoption in Arizona

When most people think about adoption, they tend to think about the process of adopting a newborn or infant child who they have never met.

While this type of adoption certainly accounts for a significant percentage of adoptions that take place in Arizona, there are also circumstances in which a relative or a stepparent wishes to adopt a child.

There are a number of ways in which this scenario can arise. For example, perhaps a parent remarries years after having a child with another person and his or her new spouse would like to officially become the parent of a child who is already in their household.

In other cases, a grandparent is already acting as the parent of a child due to financial or personal reasons and would like to make their relationship official in the eyes of the law.

 

The Benefits of Stepparent and Relative Adoption

 

Whatever the reason, relative and stepparent adoptions are generally very similar to other types of adoption in Arizona. In any adoption, parental rights of the birth parents are terminated and transferred to the adoptive parents.

Some of the benefits of stepparent and relative adoption include the following:

  • Allowing children to inherit assets without any further action
  • Establishing legal standing as a parent regarding any litigation that may arise in the future
  • Having the right to make important decisions regarding the way a child is raised and regarding medical decisions
  • Establishing a sense of stability in the household

 

The Stepparent and Relative Adoption Process in Arizona

 

In order for a relative or stepparent to adopt a child in Arizona, the birth parents of the child must consent, the parental rights must be terminated by a court, or circumstances must exist that justify the adoption proceedings without the birth parent’s consent.

Next, prior to adopting, a social study of your home may be needed in which an accredited agency evaluates the environment in which the child will be raised.

Fortunately for many stepparents or relatives who are seeking to adopt a child, this requirement is significantly easier for them than it is for other adoptive parents.

Under an Arizona law passed in 2012, the social study will only consist of fingerprinting or a central registry (child abuse clearance) check if:

  • The prospective adoptive parent is the child’s stepparent who has been legally married to the child’s birth or legal parent for at least one year and the child has resided with the stepparent and parent for at least six months.
  • The prospective adoptive parent is the child’s adult sibling, by whole or half blood, or the child’s aunt, uncle, grandparent or great‑grandparent and the child has resided with the prospective adoptive parent for at least six months.

Finally, a stepparent or relative will need to petition a court in order to make the adoption official.

Because of the complicated nature of stepparent and relative adoptions, it is highly advisable for anyone pursuing one to do so with the assistance of an experienced lawyer.

 

Contact Stuart & Blackwell to Learn More about Relative and Stepparent Adoption

 

If you are a stepparent or relative who would like to establish parental rights in a loved one, you should call the attorneys at Stuart & Blackwell to discuss your case.

To schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers, call us today at 480-420-2900 or contact us online.

 

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