In short, yes, you do need to go to court when you’re going through the adoption process in Virginia. While it may seem intimidating to appear in front of a judge to address such a personal matter, you can rest assured that there’s no cause for concern. Instead, your hearing date is an occasion you should celebrate, as you’ll be walking out with a new, official member of the family. Plus, when you have a Virginia adoption lawyer to represent you during the proceedings, your appearance in court will be stress-free. Your attorney can also assist with all the steps that precede the court date, including:
Qualifications and the Petition for Adoption: Among the top issues for prospective parents is whether they’re eligible to adopt. The qualification rules for filing the adoption petition a are less stringent than you may think. For instance:
- There is no age requirement;
- You’re not required to be part of a married couple, but you’ll need consent of your spouse if you’re not both seeking to be adoptive parents; and,
- Same-sex couples are able to adopt under the same circumstances as opposite gender couples.
Of course, if you’re going through an agency, the rules of that organization govern the adoption process. Many will require you to be at least 21 years old, and you must have the physical and financial capabilities to support a child.
Residency and Placement Requirements: Once you file your petition for adoption with the Virginia Department of Social Services and the child is placed with your family, the law requires the adoption agency to conduct an investigation. The purpose of the evaluation is to make sure you’ve met all legal requirements for the process, and to determine if the placement is the right fit for everyone involved. The investigation will cover:
- The child’s physical and emotional health as a member of your family;
- The circumstances which led the child to be placed in your home;
- The child’s relationship and circumstances involving his or her biological parents;
- Whether you’re in possession of the child’s medical records and other important information;
- Fees paid by you as part of the adoption process; and,
- Other factors.
Finalization of Adoption and the Court Hearing: The last phases of the adoption process relate to the question about going to court. The proceeding is usually brief, typically a formality to ensure that you’ve complied with all legal requirements and the child’s placement with your family proves to be successful. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will enter a final order of adoption to complete the process.
Count on a Virginia Adoption Attorney for Assistance with the Process
At Shannon & Associates, P.C., our lawyers want to make sure the adoption process is the rewarding experience you expect when welcoming your child into your loving family. It’s true that you’ll have to attend a court hearing, but you won’t be anxious when a member of our team is at your side. For more information on the process, please contact our law firm to speak with an adoption attorney. We can schedule a consultation at our offices in Chesapeake or Suffolk to explain the details.