New Orleans Intrafamily and Stepparent Adoption Lawyers
Helping families in New Orleans, Slidell, and throughout Louisiana
At the Law Office of James A. Graham, we guide you through the intrafamily adoption process. Unlike many other types of family law issues which can focus on the less pleasant aspects of life, adoption is one civil process that is warm, welcoming, and inspiring. It is a way to celebrate the love between family members by making the relationship between the adopting party and the person being adopted legally for all the world to see. If you need help with intrafamily adoption, give us a call in New Orleans or Slidell today.
How can we help?
- Who can participate in the intrafamily adoption process in New Orleans?
- What can I expect after filing a petition for intrafamily adoption?
- Does the other party/parent have to consent to the adoption?
- Do you have an intrafamily adoption lawyer near me?
Who can participate in the intrafamily adoption process in New Orleans?
Intrafamily adoption is a simplified adoption process that allows relatives to adopt relatives. Also referred to as “Stepparent Adoption,” it allows stepparents to adopt their spouse’s children. Louisiana’s Intrafamily Adoption laws allow a stepparent, grandparent, great-grandparent, stepgrandparent, or relative to the twelfth degree (first cousins, once removed) to adopt a child if all of the following are met:
- The person seeking to adopt is related to the child by blood, adoption, or affinity through a parent recognized as having parental rights.
- The person seeking to adopt is a single person over the age of 18, or a married person whose spouse is a joint petitioner.
- The person seeking to adopt has had legal or physical custody of the child for at least six months prior to the filing of the petition.
The Louisiana intrafamily adoption law also provides that:
When the spouse of the stepparent or one joint petitioner dies after the petition has been filed, the adoption proceedings may continue as though the survivor was a single original petitioner.
When a petitioner is the grandparent of a child and the petitioner's spouse is the stepgrandparent of the child and that spouse files an authentic act requesting that the blood relative grandparent petitioner be allowed to file or complete the adoption proceedings as the sole petitioner, then any court of competent jurisdiction may grant the adoption in the same manner as if the grandparent was a single petitioner.
Any petitioner and stepgrandparent filing a petition pursuant to this Paragraph shall be required to undergo the background check provided for in Article 1243.2.
What can I expect after filing a petition for intrafamily adoption?
The family court will also need to make sure the adoption is in the child’s best interests. The family court will review numerous factors usually with the help of someone appointed by the court or local agencies.
These factors include:
- Examining the home environment
- Speaking with the family members including the person being adopted
- Examining how close the child and the non-custodial natural parent (if alive) and how terminating this relationship would affect that relationship
Normally, the process involves the filing of a petition, a review by the court, and a court hearing. Petitioners may undergo a home study and vigorous background checks for a history of criminal activity and child abuse or neglect. After this is completed, a hearing is usually held in chambers with the Judge to determine the child’s best interests.
Adoption hearings are normally less formal than other court proceedings. Our New Orleans intrafamily/stepparent lawyers are skilled at preparing the family for the challenges ahead once the decision has been to seek adoption approval from the court, so that the hearing is an uncontested joyous occasion.
Does the other party/parent have to consent to the adoption?
If you are considering an intrafamily adoption, it is a good idea to reach out to the other biological parent and ask for his or her permission. Although this is not required, permission can make the adoption process much quicker and easier. If you are not sure where the child’s parent currently is, the court can appoint a curator ad hoc, which is an attorney who will try to find the parent so he or she can be properly served with the adoption petition.
Louisiana does not formally require the non-custodial parent’s consent. The state law provides that consent is not required providing there is clear and convincing evidence of the following:
- When a petitioner authorized by Article 1243 has been granted custody of the child by a court of competent jurisdiction and any one of the following conditions exists:
- The parent has refused or failed to comply with a court order of support without just cause for a period of at least six months.
- The parent has refused or failed to visit, communicate, or attempt to communicate with the child without just cause for a period of at least six months.
- When the spouse of a stepparent petitioner has been granted sole or joint custody of the child by a court of competent jurisdiction or is otherwise exercising lawful custody of the child and any one of the following conditions exists:
- The other parent has refused or failed to comply with a court order of support without just cause for a period of at least six months.
- The other parent has refused or failed to visit, communicate, or attempt to communicate with the child without just cause for a period of at least six months.
Understanding the termination of parental rights in Louisiana
The termination of parental rights – for the purpose of adoption or not – is a very serious matter, and should be considered carefully and fully. A parent will not just lose custody and/or child support; he or she will give up ALL rights to that child. You will not have a say in where your child goes to school or which doctors he or she sees. You cannot request time at holidays or for special occasions. You essentially become persona non grata in that child’s life until he or she reaches the age of majority, when the child may choose whether or not to spend time with you. In the eyes of the law, it’s like you never gave birth or fathered a child at all.
In Louisiana, a parent may voluntarily give up his or her parental rights so that a family member can adopt, but sometimes that termination comes from the court. Your rights can be stripped if you are convicted of a violent crime against the child or your co-parent, but also for abandonment or neglect.
Do you have an intrafamily adoption lawyer near me?
The Law Office of James A. Graham has two office locations in South Louisiana:
For clients who are unable to travel, we can schedule phone or video conferences when needed.
Trust our respected New Orleans intrafamily/stepparent adoptions lawyers
At the Law Office of James A. Graham, our New Orleans intrafamily/stepparent adoption lawyers take great pride in helping blood relatives confirm their love and responsibility for children by helping relatives adopt their loved ones. To learn more about how you can adopt a stepchild, a grandchild, or another blood relative, please call us or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation with a divorce lawyer in New Orleans or Slidell. We’re ready to help you today.