Contested adoptions can be stressful for everyone in a biological and adoptive family. Read on to learn more about contested adoption and how a Carmel family law attorney can help.
Contested Adoption: A Definition
Simply put, a contested adoption occurs when one biological parent, usually the birth mother, plans to put a child up for adoption, while the biological father does not want the child put up for adoption. In most cases, contested adoption centers around an unborn or newborn. In some cases, the father doesn't even know about the adoption and only finds out once the legal process has started.
There are several reasons a birth father may contest an adoption. He may not have known about the pregnancy or may feel like he was manipulated into agreeing to the adoption. In some cases, the father changes his mind.
While most contested adoptions are initiated by the birth father, other family members can also legally object to the adoption.
In the case of older children, a contested adoption usually occurs when the custodial parent has remarried and the stepparent wants to adopt the children. The noncustodial parent may refuse to give up their rights.
Biological Parent Rights During Contested Adoption
Biological parents have the right to make decisions about their child's future. The father (or noncustodial parent) has a right to contest an adoption. However, the father must prove that he's fit to parent. He may prove fitness by showing his behavior during the pregnancy, or by showing that he's paid child support and been involved in his child's life.
Contested Adoption Hearings
At a contested adoption hearing, all involved parties are required to attend, including the biological parents and the adoptive parents. The judge will listen to the father, who must present proof of his involvement during the pregnancy and during the children's lives. He must be up to date on child support.
The judge will make a decision based on the facts presented in the case and the state's laws. They may side with the parent contesting the adoption if they can prove that the adoption was wrongful and that they're able to care for the child. Otherwise, the judge will rule in favor of the adoptive parents. In some cases, the judge may require a further hearing to consider the best interests of the child.
Do You Need Help With a Contested Adoption?
If you're involved in a contested adoption and need legal counsel, a Carmel family law attorney can help. Please contact us at HOLLINGSWORTH ROBERTS MEANS, where we'll help represent you and your child's best interests.