If you plan to adopt a child, you may need to work with a family lawyer. These professionals can ensure that all the proper paperwork is filed so that you never have to worry about losing the child you have adopted. Here are some tips to help you find the right family lawyer for your adoption needs:
1. Step-parents need to apply through the Family Court system.
If you are the step-parent of a child and you wish to adopt that child, you typically need to take the case through the family court system. In order for the court to hear the case, you must have lived with the child's biological or adoptive parent for at least three years, and there must be a compelling reason to favour adoption over a parenting order (split custody arrangement). If these conditions are met, you can work with a Family Court lawyer to help you finalise the adoption.
2. Adoption laws vary from area to area.
If you are adopting someone who is not already your step-child, you need to to deal with the adoption laws in your state or territory. As these laws vary from area to area, it's important to choose a family lawyer who is experienced with adoptions in your area. In addition, if you are adopting a child who currently lives in another state or territory, you may want to consult with a lawyer in that area as well.
3. Lawyers may have expertise in different types of adoption.
In addition to having regional knowledge or expertise, lawyers may have experience with different types of adoption, and for the best results, you should select a lawyer who has experience with the type of adoption you are navigating. To explain, if you are doing an open adoption (where the names of all parties involved are known) or a closed adoption (where the names of the birth and adoptive parents are kept from each other), you need a lawyer experienced in that arena.
Similarly, you want an international adoption expert if you are adopting from abroad, while you want someone experienced with the dynamics of inter-family adoption if you are adopting a niece, nephew, grandchild or other relative.
4. Different laws apply to same-sex couples and single individuals.
It's also important to note that in some cases, there are different laws for same-sex couples and single individuals than there are for married, hetero-sexual couples. For example, in Queensland, it is still illegal for same sex couples to adopt. However, changes are in the works. When hiring your lawyer, talk with him or her not just about the type of adoption you plan to do but about your situation as well. Ideally, you want a lawyer experienced in representing people in your situation.