Knoxville Adoption Attorneys
Mandy Hancock Law Firm
Legal Help with Adoption in Tennessee
If you’re considering adoption or you’ve already started the process, it’s likely become clear you’ll need an adoption attorney for the legal aspects. To begin, you’ll want to ensure you meet the basic legal requirements to adopt.
The legal requirements for adoption in Tennessee are:
- You must be 21 years or older
- You must be able to demonstrate the ability to financially and emotionally care for an adopted child
- You must have been a TN resident for 6 months unless you are related to the child (some exceptions can be made for military personnel)
- Two unmarried people cannot adopt – you can be married, single, or divorced
Preparing to receive a child into your home is both exciting and stressful. Many considerations go into determining whether a child and family are a good fit, and parent training is also involved. Fortunately, a family law attorney can handle the legal details so you can focus on everything else that comes with adoption.
Adoption is immensely rewarding, but the process can feel overwhelming at times. Securing the welfare of children means abiding by many rules, regulations, and requirements. There is a tremendous amount of joy when the process is complete, but getting there requires patience and understanding.
Foster parents in Tennessee’s Department of Children Services get priority if adopting children currently in their care. If you are not a foster parent, you must submit to education and assessments through Tennessee’s KEY (Knowledge Empowers You) program, which all foster parents have already completed.
Adoption Types in Tennessee
Tennessee legally recognizes multiple types of adoption. Each county has its own unique procedures and regulations, and adoptions take place within that specific framework. Unmarried couples are not allowed to adopt in Tennessee, but single, divorced, married, and LGBTQ+ couples are permitted if they meet the requirements.
Foster Parent Adoption
If you are a foster parent currently caring for the child in question, the adoption process will be more streamlined for you than for others. However, you will still need to undergo the process of legally terminating the maternal parents’ rights.
When children are in foster care, Tennessee DCS (Department of Children’s Services) is required to reach out to the biological parents or close relatives in an attempt to reunite them. If parents or relatives do not complete the tasks in their Permanency Plan, DCS will file a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights. At that point, the fost parent is first in line to adopt.
Step Parent Adoption
Step parent adoption is the easiest adoption process. If you are a step parent, you are not required to submit to any pre-adoption screenings or tests in Tennessee. The absent parent must consent to the adoption or relinquish parental rights, and most are eager to cooperate to avoid child support payments.
All LGBTQ+ couples with children must arrange for step parent adoption, even if they are married. This requirement is to protect the non-genetic parent from losing parental rights in the event of a divorce.
When parents are unable to properly care for their child or children, grandparents sometimes step in to adopt. For example, you might see grandparents legally adopt if the birth parents are involved in drug use, domestic violence, or criminal activity.
When grandparents adopt, they become the legal guardians of a child. Regardless of what changes or improvements the parents make, they do not have the right to take the child away from the grandparents once the adoption process is complete.
What is a Contested Adoption Hearing?
In some instances, natural parents do not give their consent for adoption. This situation is known as a contested adoption. When a relative or caregiver tries to obtain parental authority against the parent(s) wishes, they will generally need to file a petition with the courts.
Legal grounds for the termination of parental rights include:
- Mental incompetence
- Incarceration of the parent(s)
- Severe abuse or neglect
- Noncompliance with a Permanency Plan
If you are involved in a contested adoption, the team at Mandy Hancock Law understands how sensitive and trying a process it can be. Our adoption lawyers will help you work toward the best possible outcome and fight for the interests of the child at the center of the case.
Contact An Experienced Knoxville Adoption Attorney Today
Our dedicated attorneys can help with the following:
- Filing critical and complex paperwork with the right people at the right times
- Preparing witnesses for court and gathering character witnesses
- Collecting essential evidence and getting in touch with expert witnesses
- Preparing you for your testimony, including answering difficult questions
- Helping you develop a winning hearing strategy for your approach and attitude
At Mandy Hancock Law, we have a long history of successful outcomes and we would be honored to add you to our client family! Our family lawyers will put your needs first and work tirelessly to achieve a favorable outcome that supports your child’s best interest. We’ll keep you updated every step of the way to alleviate some of the stress and pain that comes with the challenging experience that is child custody.
Knoxville Adoption Attorneys FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Can an unmarried couple adopt?
An unmarried couple cannot adopt in Tennessee. Married, divorced, single, and LGBTQ+ individuals can file for adoption.
What is a Knoxville adoption attorney?
A Knoxville adoption attorney specializes in family law. They help individuals and couples through every step of the adoption process, working toward a positive outcome and advocating for the best interests of the child.
What are the legal requirements to adopt a child in Tennessee?
To adopt a child in Tennessee, you must be 21 or older, and you must be able to prove you can care for the child both emotionally and financially. You need to have lived in Tennessee for six months or more unless you are related to the child, and you cannot be an unmarried couple.
What is a contested adoption?
A contested adoption is when the birth parent(s) do not wish to give up their parental rights. In these cases, the potential adoptive parent(s) must file a petition with a Tennessee court. Reasons a parent might lose their parental rights include abandonment, mental incompetence, incarceration, or severe neglect and abuse.
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