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Warner Angle Hallam Jackson & Formanek PLC

     

Adoption and Termination of Parental Rights

We can help you bring a new child into your family, via standard adoption, grandparent adoption or stepparent adoption.

You should be focusing on preparing yourself and your family for the new addition, not dealing with anxiety about the process. We take the stress off your shoulders so you can focus on what is truly important. Since 1959, our lawyers have taken great pride in helping people through the adoption process.

Helping You Understand the Adoption Process

We help make the process of adoption work for you and help you understand the process. We do so in two ways:

  • We take the time to learn about you, your family and your vision for the future. As we move through the steps, we always have your needs in mind.

  • We provide you with the information you need to understand the process. We educate you about the steps involved and inform you about your choices. We help you make informed decisions about your family's future.

Our attorneys can assist you with every step of the adoption process. This includes first terminating the biological parent's rights, either with consent or through a contested hearing. Then we assist you in obtaining your adoption certification by coordinating the necessary home study with an adoption certification agency. Finally, we prepare all of the necessary paperwork and attend the final adoption hearing at the Juvenile Court.

We are experienced in assisting individuals involved in all types of adoptions, including interstate adoptions, grandparent adoptions and step-parent adoptions. We guide individuals through the adoption process, including the termination of parental rights.

Termination of Parental Rights

The first step in an adoption is to obtain a termination of the biological parent's parental rights.

Before the adoption is approved, there must be grounds for a termination of parental rights. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 8-533, a Petition for Termination of Parental Relationship must show that the termination is in the child's best interests and at least one of the following:

  • A parent has abandoned the child.

  • A parent has neglected or willfully abused the child.

  • A parent has mental illness, mental deficiency or history of chronic abuse of dangerous drugs, controlled substances or alcohol. There must be reasonable grounds to believe that the condition will continue for prolonged and indeterminate period.

  • A parent is convicted of a felony. The felony should prove the unfitness of that parent to have future custody and control of the child, or the sentence should be of such length that the child would be deprived of a normal home for a period of years.

  • The potential father failed to file a paternity action within thirty days of completion of service of notice.

  • The father failed to file a Notice of Claim of Paternity.

  • The parents have relinquished their rights to a child to an agency or have consented to the adoption.

  • The child is being cared for in an out of home placement under the supervision of the juvenile court.

  • The identity of the parent is unknown following three months of diligent efforts to identify and locate the parent.

  • The parent has had parental rights to another child terminated within two years for the same cause and cannot currently raise a child.

Contesting a Petition for Termination of Parental Rights

After the petition has been filed, the Juvenile Court sets an initial hearing to determine whether or not the petition is being contested.

If the Petition is contested, then the Court will hold a Termination Adjudication Hearing. In most instances, the Court appoints an attorney to represent the child's legal interests, as well as a best interest attorney to represent the child's "best interests." Additionally, the Court may appoint an attorney for either of the parents contesting the termination if that parent is unable to afford an attorney of their choice.

At the Termination Adjudication Hearing, the Court determines whether at least one of the grounds for termination has been proven and whether the termination is in the child's best interests.

Filing for Adoption

If a parent is successful in obtaining the termination of parental rights, then the parent can proceed to file a Petition for Adoption in Juvenile Court.

Once you file a Petition for Adoption, a social or home study will help determine whether the adoption is in the minor child's best interests. In addition, a person must be certified as acceptable to adopt children. An investigation is conducted that reviews the adoptive parent's fitness to adopt children, including:

  • A complete social history

  • Financial condition of the applicant

  • Moral fitness of the applicant

  • Religious background of the applicant

  • Physical and mental condition of the applicant

  • Whether there has been any court adjudication of child abuse, abandonment or dependency against the applicant

  • Criminal history of the applicant

If the prospective adoptive parent is a stepparent of the child or is an uncle, aunt, adult sibling, grandparent or great-grandparent of the child, the pre-certification process is unnecessary.

Once a prospective adoptive parent obtains the certification, the Court sets the matter for an Adoption Hearing.

Completing the Adoption Process

The entire process from the Petition to Terminate Parental Relationship through the adoption takes approximately six months depending upon the Juvenile Court's calendar. Upon completion of the Adoption, the child gets a new birth certificate with the adoptive parent's name listed as a biological parent. Additionally, the child's last name may be changed to the last name of the adoptive parent.

 

Phoenix Adoption Attorneys

Phoenix adoption attorney Joel Hoffman

Joel Hoffman

Phoenix adoption attorney Erik Bergstrom

Erik Bergstrom

Whether you are involved in a standard adoption, a grandparent adoption or a stepparent adoption, we can help. Our goal is to help you navigate the process efficiently and effectively. We will address all legal matters as you bring a new child into your family.

          

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