Consensual adoption usually represents a happy day and the best of circumstances. When a stepparent who has been raising a child gets to adopt that child and become their parent, officially and legally, the whole family has cause for celebration.
Steps to Consensual Adoption
First, the prospective parent files a Petition for Adoption. What happens next depends on consent. Consent means the biological parent has agreed to give up their parental rights and allow the proposed adoption to go forward. If there is no consent attached to the petition, the court issues a Show Cause Order. It is sent to the parent who is being asked to grant consent.
After being served, the parent who has been issued the Show Cause Order has thirty days to respond to that order. This is one of those situations in law where time is of the essence, and there is no wiggle room for procrastinators. In the absence of a response within 30 days, it is considered to mean consent is given. If you are planning to withhold consent, it is vital to reply and to make sure your reply reaches the court within the thirty-day window.
Open vs. Closed Adoption
In a closed adoption, the biological parent no longer has parental rights. They may have been given up voluntarily or taken from them as a result of a “fitness” test. They do not have visitation rights nor the right to have any say in the rearing of the child.
In an open adoption, the biological parent may be granted limited access to the child going forward, as agreed by the two parties. Both parties will agree on when and under what conditions the parent has access to information about the child as he or she grows up, may visit the child, or have the ability to contact them.
The Role of Mediation in Consensual Adoption
You may be wondering why you need an attorney or mediator if everything is agreed upon. The truth is, when it comes to matters of family law, such as adoption, it’s essential to have a legal and binding agreement. It’s also important to have a professional who is aware of all the issues involved in an adoption, whether it’s an open or closed adoption.
Put simply, people tend to change their minds over time. What they agree to today, they may challenge in the future. Having legal rights in this situation will prevent confusion in the future.
Things are different today than they were in the past. Through genetic family tracing, people are finding out as adults that the people he/she through were their parents are not actually their parents. Furthermore, parents who gave up all rights to children when they are young are having a person show up in their inbox or on their doorstep, asking if they are their biological parents.
A mediator has the experience to know all the issues which can help create a durable plan for what happens in the future. A mediator can help both the adoptive parents to begin addressing these issues now, including suggestions of when the child may need counseling to address the age-old question of “Who am I?”
Why I’m Your Best Choice for a Mediator in Your Adoption Case
I’m a trained mediator, an attorney for children, and an attorney for parents. I’ve seen too many adversarial scenarios and the effect it has on the kids. Adoption through mediation is peaceful and best for everyone, from the individual to the whole family. Rely on my experience and care to guide you through the process with a minimum of drama and the best possible outcome.
Mediation is an effective alternative to court. During mediation sessions in Baltimore, a neutral third party helps parties who are at odds with each other explore the issues and discover mutually agreeable solutions. Mediation is useful for many situations, including family law matters such as child custody disputes. Even when parents have experienced significant breakdowns in communication, they may decide to attempt custody mediation in order to make the arrangements themselves, rather than entrust the custody decisions to a judge.
Children may have a limited role in custody mediation.
In most cases, children are not involved in settling custody disputes. Family law judges do not generally want to see minor children in the courtroom because of the significant stress this can inflict and the potential damage to family relationships. The same is true of custody mediation sessions. One of the goals of settling custody disputes is to avoid putting children in the middle; they should never feel as though they must choose one parent over the other. That being said, there may be some situations in which children can play a very limited role in custody mediation, provided that neither of the parents attempts to influence the children.
Children can aid in the identification of challenges.
Although children may not participate in the actual mediation sessions with all three parties, the mediator may decide to meet with the children separately to hold a low-stress discussion of the family situation. The mediator must be careful not to create a psychologically difficult situation for the children. Instead of asking a question such as, “Which parent would you rather live with?” the mediator might ask, “Who usually helps you with your homework?” The mediator might also prompt the children to identify challenges that may be settled during the mediation sessions. For example, a child might express concern about being able to participate in sports or other after-school activities despite the visitation schedule. The mediator can then bring these challenges into the mediation sessions and guide the parents in working toward solutions.
Making the decision to adopt a child is a joyous occasion, but the process itself can often be tedious and confusing. If you intend to adopt a child, you can make an appointment with a lawyer in Baltimore who handles adoption cases. Your lawyer can walk you through the stages of the adoption process and provide legal representation if any problems arise.
The requirements to adopt a child in Maryland are not unnecessarily strict. However, an adoptive parent must be at least 21 years of age. Adoptive parents may be single or married. If married, then both adoptive parents will be joined to the petition unless the couple is separated or the other parent is not legally competent. It is not necessary for adoptive parents to be affluent; however, they must have the financial means to provide for the child. Adoptive parents may be renters or homeowners. It is required to complete a 27-hour home study course before adopting a child through a public agency.
Under Maryland family law, the legal guardians of the adoptee must provide consent for the adoption. The legal guardians may be the birth parents or the adoption agency. If the court has terminated parental rights, then only agency consent is required. If the adoption is an independent adoption, the adoptive parents must obtain the consent of all legal guardians. However, the consent of only one parent may be needed if the other parent cannot be located, does not object to a published notice of adoption, and has not been in contact with the department for a certain length of time.
A lawyer will file a petition for adoption with the court, which will likely include supporting documents. Once the petition is filed, the court will send a notice to all of the involved parties and their attorneys.
During the hearing, the judge will decide whether to grant or deny the petition for adoption. If it is an independent adoption, the court might require an investigation prior to granting the petition. If the matter is being facilitated by a private adoption agency, then the agency will need to submit a report prior to the hearing. During the hearing, the judge will consider whether the petitioners are fit to be adoptive parents, whether all necessary paperwork has been completed, and whether being adopted is in the best interests of the adoptee.
It’s often expected that a divorce agreement will resolve family law issues beyond a shadow of a doubt. But in fact, many disputes can arise months or years after the divorce agreement was signed. For example, one party may wish to change the custody agreement or child support arrangement. If this applies to your situation, you can consult a mediation lawyer in Baltimore . He or she may recommend post-divorce mediation. Being well prepared for your mediation sessions can help you get the most out of them.
Ahead of your first mediation session, you should gather together documents that are relevant to the case. Your lawyer can provide guidance on which specific documents or evidence will be useful for achieving your goals. For example, if you wish to increase the child support payments you’re receiving, you may need evidence that demonstrates that the child’s financial needs are increasing. These might include medical bills or receipts for extracurricular activities. Perhaps you wish to modify the visitation schedule. For example, you might argue that your child’s grades are declining because of the back-and-forth visitation during the week days. Gather together your child’s report card, progress reports, notes from teachers, and similar evidence.
You likely already have a clear idea of what you would like to accomplish in post-divorce mediation. But it can be even more helpful to put your proposal into writing. For example, you might develop one or more alternative schedules of visitation. If you want your child with you during the entire week, you’ll need to be prepared to increase visitation during other times such as school vacations, holidays, and weekends. Understand that it’s unlikely that your proposal will be accepted exactly as is. However, it can provide a good starting point for the discussion.
Adjust Your Mindset
Before going into mediation, your lawyer may counsel you to adjust your mindset. Mediation is intended to resolve conflicts in a mutually agreeable way . It’s expected that parties involved with mediation may not be on the best of terms, but entering mediation with a confrontational mindset is counterproductive. Remind yourself that you’ll have to be willing to compromise to make progress. You might even identify areas where you’re willing to compromise before your session with the mediator.
Child support consists of monetary contributions paid by a noncustodial parent to the custodial parent to provide for a child’s daily needs. Following a divorce or paternity ruling, a judge will typically determine the amount of child support required in Baltimore using state guidelines that take into account income, healthcare costs, alimony payments, and other potential costs for daycare, schooling, and other daily necessities. Child support payments are made by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent via wage attachment, which deducts the child support payment directly from the noncustodial parent’s paycheck. It is the noncustodial parent’s responsibility to ensure these payments are made on time, regardless of his current employment status, as well as if he becomes incarcerated or disabled. The custodial parent receives these payments directly, so long as she is not receiving Temporary Cash Assistance, or TCA. If the custodial parent is receiving TCA, child support payments are kept by the state and considered reimbursement for TCA benefits.
In family law, an interstate child support case refers to a support order between two parents who live in different states. For example, the custodial parent might live in Maryland and the noncustodial parent might live in Virginia. Sometimes, enforcing a child support order in Baltimore can be difficult when the other parent lives across state lines.
However, as you’ll learn by watching this video, all states have laws that allow for the enforcement of interstate child support orders. If the other parent does not pay his or her child support obligations, you can seek the counsel of a family law attorney. Your attorney may petition the court to enforce the support order. The court can take a number of enforcement actions, perhaps including issuing a wage garnishment order against the non-paying parent.
When a child custody and visitation case is contested, the family law judge in Baltimore may order a custody evaluation. A custody evaluator will meet with each parent and the child, along with other relevant parties such as social workers and psychologists. Custody evaluators can also visit each home to make observances about family life. The end result is a written report that the family law judge will use when making a custody and visitation decision. If you’re anticipating a meeting with a custody evaluator, it’s important to sit down with your family law attorney and discuss what you should and shouldn’t do.
Talking to Your Child
The family law evaluator will ask to speak with your child. Many parents are unsure of how to inform their kids of the upcoming appointment. Depending on the age of your child, you could inform him or her that a psychologist wants to talk to him or her about living with mom or dad. However, it’s of the utmost importance to avoid coaching the child on what you want him or her to say. Not only will the family law evaluator be able to discern this, it will likely confuse your child and may have lasting psychological effects.
Knowing How to Answer Questions
Your attorney will likely advise you to practice good listening skills during your conversation with the custody evaluator . Pay attention to what the evaluator is asking you and answer only that question-nothing more. Answer truthfully about your current living situation and your background. If you’re not sure about a question, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. The evaluator will appreciate your cooperativeness and willingness to get the facts right.
Discussing Sensitive Areas
It’s likely that the custody evaluator will ask you some sensitive questions, such as questions about your strengths and weaknesses as a parent. It’s best not to try to portray yourself as the best parent in the world-the evaluator will see through this. Similarly, try to resist the temptation to portray the other party as a completely incompetent parent. Do acknowledge the other parent’s strengths and weaknesses, and acknowledge the importance of your child having positive, ongoing relationships with both parents.
A children’s trust can be a useful estate planning tool for families with small children. It allows parents to leave assets to children while controlling the age at which they have access to them. Your estate lawyer in Baltimore can help you decide if this kind of trust could be right for you.
With a children’s trust, benefactors assign assets to a trust for a child and identify a trustee to control the assets until the child reaches an age set by the benefactor. For instance, while estate planning, parents may decide to set up a trust for their toddler and name a close relative as the trustee. The trust says that the child cannot control the inheritance until they reach age 18. If both parents are deceased before the child reaches 18, he or she receives the trust but the trustee manages it as directed by the parents. If both parents are deceased after the child reaches 19, he or she receives the inheritance without the involvement of the trustee.
Children’s trusts put many parents’ minds at ease while estate planning. Your estate lawyer can guide you through the process of establishing your trust.
A trust is a financial tool often used during the estate planning process . When a trust is created, a third party, called a trustee, is given control of financial assets meant for an inheritor or beneficiary. During the creation of your trust, you and your estate lawyer serving Baltimore can choose the type of trust you want and determine the terms that must be fulfilled before your beneficiary gains control of the trust himself. In many cases, trusts are passed on to beneficiaries upon the settlor’s death or when the beneficiary reaches a certain age. Creating an irrevocable trust is an excellent way to reduce estate taxes after your death; furthermore, the property and assets that you place into a trust does not go through the probate process. These factors ensure that your chosen beneficiaries will receive the amount you wish them to inherit in full and much more quickly than if legal proceedings are needed to determine inheritance.
During a divorce, child custody is a particularly contentious issue. Clashes over custody can do lasting damage to the relationships between parents and children, especially when coming to an agreement involves nasty courtroom battles. Mediation offers an alternative that can be easier on families. Talk to a mediation lawyer in Baltimore if you are facing a child custody dispute to see if you could come to an agreement outside of the courtroom that works for your family. Here are some of the benefits to choosing mediation in your custody dispute.
Less Stress for Parents
Mediation is not adversarial, as disputes decided in the courtroom can be. The goal of mediation is for all parties to work together to come up with a solution that is right for everyone. There are no winner or losers in mediation, so the overall process is less overwhelming. A third-party representative will guide the mediation process and ensure that no one’s rights are violated, so you can focus on making an agreement instead of being on guard.
Less Stress for Kids
When parents are locked in a custody dispute, their animosity almost inevitably encroaches on their children’s well-being, even despite the best intentions. Kids may feel pressured to choose sides or may hear one parent talking disparagingly about the other parent, causing confusion and fear. Because mediation is easier on parents, it is also easier on kids. They may also get an outcome that is better for them, since the focus of everyone in mediation is to make a plan that is right for the children.
Improved Long-Term Cooperation
Mediation helps to set the tone for what the new normal will look like after a divorce. When parents cooperate during mediation and come up with a child custody plan they both feel good about, they walk away feeling encouraged about their abilities to co-parent even after divorce. This kind of cooperation sets the stage for future issues to be negotiated collaboratively rather than in an adversarial manner.