Bringing a new member into your home is a lovely process. Families who opt to adopt give a chance for affection and family to those who might not have it. Still, only some adoption processes go smoothly. You might discover yourself in a situation where you begin an adoption process but get turned into a contested adoption by another biological parent.
When a birth parent (in numerous cases, the birth father) attempts to oppose an adoption, it is known as a contested adoption. Contested adoptions happen during infant adoption, and the premise of contested adoption is when one parent gives the child up for adoption without the other parent’s consent.
What is a Contested Adoption?
While contested adoptions are uncommon, there is the chance that a case may become contested. For example, some adoptions are expected to be voluntary and uncontested and subsequently become contested.
Likewise, though some adoptions begin in a contested posture through the litigation process, the parties, through their attorney, find a way to settle the dispute through discussion or mediation.
Generally, contested adoptions happen in the cases of private domestic adoption or foster care adoption when a biological parent objects to the adoption. When they get approached about giving their consent, they oppose and cause the adoption to become contested.
Process of Contested Adoption
As every family situation is distinct, there are diverse variations of adoption. These proceedings may get completed with or without the support of a lawyer, agency, or another third party. However, no matter what version of adoption a family prefers to follow, they must adhere to relevant state laws.
In an ordinary adoption, a birth mother develops an adoption plan. This plan centers around opting for adoptive parents for the infant. If this process gets completed before the infant’s birth, he gets handed over to the adoptive family.
It begins when the court processes the birth mother’s termination of rights and transfers custody to adoptive parents. While most state laws are similar for this procedure, the time it takes to hear and finalize a case can differ in every state.
During this part of the adoption process, the second parent can contest the adoption and question that they become the prime guardian of the child. If this happens, the proceedings get halted, and a contested adoption hearing begins.
Why Does Contested Adoption Happen?
There are several cases why a biological parent may challenge an adoption:
In Newborn Adoption
A birth father might challenge the adoption because of being deceived about the pregnancy, and he changes his mind and claims the birth mother thwarted his efforts to support her or there was a case of the false identity of the birth father. A birth mother or father may also contest the rule of the court, including the validity of consent documents formerly given.
In Foster Care Adoption
An adoption may get contested when the foster kid gets removed from their birth parents’ home, and termination of the paternal rights gets attempted. The parents object and try to have the child in their custody.
What Happens at a Contested Adoption Hearing?
When a child’s birth parent contests an adoption, a family law judge will determine whether or not the birth parent is suitable to parent the child. The court process will lengthen the adoption in that the judge gives the contesting parent time to substantiate their parenthood capabilities. Further, resulting in attorney costs and a lot of patience in awaiting court orders and dates.
All parties must attend an approval hearing in court, where the judge examines the proof and hears arguments from both sides. For instance, a noncustodial natural father decides he’s ready and capable of taking legal responsibility for the child and denies authorization for the adoption. He must give proof of his conduct before and after the pregnancy, such as texts, pictures, or phone calls of how he was concerned to some degree in the child’s life.
The less proof the father has of his willingness and capability to be the child’s legal parent less likely the adoption will get successfully contested.
Results of a Contested Adoption Hearing
There are eventually three conclusions from the contested adoption hearing:
- The contesting individual gets parental rights, and the adoption process gets thwarted.
- The contesting individual gets parental rights denied, and the adoption process is permitted to continue.
- The judge orders a hearing in the best interest, during which the two parties will have one more chance to present additional proof and arguments.
How to Win a Contested Adoption?
To win a contested adoption, you or your attorney must prove that the contesting party is:
- Not the birth parent,
- Not fit to raise the child, or
- Has legally abandoned the kid
Consider hiring an attorney to assist you with the adoption process and the legal conditions to fight and win a contested adoption.
One method to win a contested adoption is establishing that the contesting party is an unfit parent. Proving that a birth mother or birth father is incompetent to be a parent will strip them of their parental rights. Getting succeeded by this measure will ensure that contesting parties have their custodial rights of the child revoked.
To prove they are incompetent, you must show-
- They have a substance addiction
- They are currently in prison
- They are careless or irresponsible
- They are abusive toward their family or the kid
- They have a record of domestic violence
However, a paternity test can invalidate their contestation and permit you to move with the adoption process if the non-consenting party is not truly the biological father.
Different state laws contrast the specifications for abandonment, and they differ slightly based on the age of the child to be adopted.
Generally, they require proving that one party abandoned the child after birth for a minimum of six months or one year if you adopt an infant. You need to prove they have not made any efforts to support the child since birth.
If you are adopting an old child, you must prove that one party abandoned their child for the prior six months or one year based on state laws. You need to prove that they have made no effort to communicate with or support the child.
Parents seeking to adopt should consider that the adoption will be contested and face potential litigation. With this mindset, finding the right adoption attorney comfortable with litigation is the most significant measure in winning a contested adoption case.
No matter your situation, you can fight to adopt a child into your family with the support of a skilled attorney.
An attorney can prepare you for the consent hearing and prepare the best defense, ensuring you can go through with the adoption process. Having an attorney can better prepare you for the legal framework of a contested adoption.
Why does contested adoption occur?
Contested adoptions generally happen in the infant adoption process when one parent is uninformed of the adoption process. Other contested adoptions can occur due to divorce, state-initiated cases of welfare adoption, etc.
What happens if a father contests an adoption?
It is still possible to get custody if the court can prove the father is an unfit parent or did not follow applicable norms before the adoption proceedings.
Can the judge side with contesting parties in the adoption hearing?
Judges in adoption cases invariably choose what is suitable for the child. In a contested adoption case, a judge may conclude that the birth parent can nurture the child, and the adoption would not proceed.
How can adoptive parents prevent contested adoption?
The adoptive parents should work to build up an understanding of the other parent’s view. Doing this can support the trial but also work to mitigate possible issues in the future.
A common way to check the possibility of conflict is to work with the birth mother to establish information on the second parent’s intentions.
How can birth mothers ensure a smooth adoption process?
The birth mother is generally the one to create an adoption plan and seek out adoptive parents. Engaging the second parent in conversations about adoption and involving them in the adoption procedure is crucial to ensure that you can finalize the adoption with consent.