Brentwood Adoption Attorney
In Tennessee, the state regulates who is eligible to adopt a child, the age at which a child can consent to adoption, and the steps that are required to make an adoption official. Navigating these regulations and laws can be complicated, especially for those without a legal background, so if you are considering adoption, consider contacting a Brentwood adoption lawyer who can address your questions and concerns.
What is Adoption?
Adoption is a legal process, wherein parental rights and responsibilities are permanently transferred from a child’s biological parents to an adoptive family. Under Tennessee law, prospective parents can only adopt a child if they:
- Are at least 18 years old;
- Have been residents of the state for at least six months; and
- Have the ability to provide for the emotional and financial needs of the child.
In Tennessee, people can also adopt regardless of their marital status, which means that a person doesn’t have to be married to start a family via adoption. There are, however, a few other limitations with which prospective parents must comply. Legal adoption proceeds cannot, for instance, begin until at least four days have passed since the birth of a child, although birth mothers do have the option of beginning the process sooner. A birth mother also has ten days to revoke her decision after surrendering a child. Children who are 14 years of age or older must also consent to an adoption.
Adoption petitioners will only be permitted to complete the adoption process after having undergone a home study. Home studies are investigations of the prospective parents and their homes that are conducted by licensed child-placing agencies to determine the fitness of the parents. During these studies, prospective parents can expect to be asked about:
- Their ability to financially support the child;
- Their physical and mental health;
- The stability of their marriage (if married); and
- Whether they can provide a safe home for the child.
The agency will also do background checks of the prospective parent(s), collect reference letters, conduct interviews with everyone in the household, and perform at least one home visit.
Home studies are required for every adoption, including infant adoption, foster care adoption, and international adoption. This requirement can, however, be waived in cases of adult adoption, inter country adoption, and adoptions by stepparents and relatives.
Finalizing the Adoption
Whether a person decides to pursue a domestic adoption, a step-parent adoption, or the adoption of a foster child, the relationship will not become legally binding until it has been finalized by a court. This in turn will require the filing of a petition and the voluntary or involuntary release of the biological parents’ parental rights. Eventually, the new family will need to attend a hearing, where the parent(s) will be given permanent legal custody of the child.
Learn More About Tennessee Adoption Laws
At Beal, Nations & Crutcher, our dedicated team of Brentwood adoption lawyers have decades of experience handling a variety of family law matters. As current and former judges, juvenile court magistrates, mediators, former law clerks, and family lawyers, our team is uniquely placed to help prospective parents navigate the adoption process. To learn more about our services, please call us at 615-861-2304 today.