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Family Law

· Adoption
· Child Custody
· Child Support
· Divorce
· Domestic Violence
· Prenuptial
· Spousal Support


What is ‘adoption’ in a legal sense?

Adoption is the process through which the natural parents' rights and obligations toward their children) are terminated, and the adoptive parents assume these rights and obligations. Once a child has been adopted, the natural or birth parents are no longer responsible for their child; the obligations that they have toward their child, likewise, cease to exist. It is as if the natural or birth parents become like any other third party with respect to the child. The adoptive parents become responsible for the child and all the obligations and rights between a parent and child are established between them.

Adoption is a process that is established by statutory law, and is treated in accordance with the laws established by the state in which the parent and child reside. The legal procedure by which a formal legal adoption occurs differs from state to state. An attorney will help you to determine the particular procedures of the state in which you live.

The primary obligation flowing from a parent to a minor child is to be responsible for his/her health, education and welfare. When a parent adopts a minor child, the parent must then provide for the needs of the child.

The primary right that a child obtains from a parent is the right of inheritance of the estate. Although this right of inheritance may be altered by a Will or Trust, or other disposition of property, in the event that a parent dies without a Will, the parent's children are entitled to the estate (all the property that the parent owned as of the date of death). Generally, an adopted child has no rights to the estate of his or her biological parents.

What is an adoption agency?

Each state has an agency which either is part of the state's government, or operates under the state's supervision, to arrange adoptions. The agency may work with both the natural parents and the adoptive parents throughout the adoption process, and may even assist with the court proceedings for the formal adoption.

Must an adoption be handled through an adoption agency?

No. The natural parents of a child can directly deal with the adoptive parents, in a case such as one in which an adoption occurs among families and friends. Private adoptions (also referred to as "independent adoptions"), facilitated by attorneys, doctors or other intermediaries, are also becoming more common. When dealing with a private adoption it is important to bear in mind that it is against the law to pay someone (or pay a broker's fee) for a baby but providing the reasonable costs of medical and legal expenses of the natural parent is permitted.

Private adoptions may also occur where the natural parent(s) live in one state and the adoptive parents reside in another. Adoptions in which the child is from another country are increasing in frequency (see further information below).

Adoption support groups and information organizations may exist in your local area. These people may assist you by providing recommendations and referrals to those in your area who can help you with an adoption. When attempting a private adoption, advice and counsel from those who have successfully completed such an adoption can be extremely helpful.

We are a childless couple and have a chance to obtain an infant if we pay lots of money upfront. Is it legal?

This is something you had better get good legal advice on from a lawyer who is not otherwise involved with the birth mother.

Having a short supply of healthy newborns ready to be placed for adoption, adopting parents are especially vulnerable to offers to buy a "black-market baby" – for an exorbitant sum of money. Paying large sums of money is unnecessary, since in most states adopting parents pay only the mother’s medical expenses, counseling and legal costs; if done improperly, it may be a crime and create an illegal placement.

What are the steps in a typical adoption?

When an adoption is pending, the prospective adopting parents are generally screened by the adoption agency or a social service investigator assigned to your case. Certain documents need to be prepared and filed, several office interviews will take place, and a there will be a home visit. A written report with a recommendation for or against the adoption is prepared and forwarded to the court.

Most states require the adoptive parents to have temporary custody of the child to be adopted for a stated period of time. The purpose is to monitor the relationship of the child with the adopting parents in the home environment.

Because court procedures and local adoption rules vary from state-to-state, the advice of an attorney is usually necessary to ensure the proper procedures are followed. Failure to conform to state or local law may result in delays or in the court's outright refusal to allow the adoption or, worse, create grounds to overturn an adoption.  [Go Back]

Premarital Agreements

What are premarital agreements?

Pre-Marital Agreements (also called "pre-nuptial" or "ante-nuptial agreements") are binding legal contracts between you and the one you intend to marry.

Among the purposes people have in wanting such written agreements is to try to ensure that their assets remain theirs if the marriage fails, to provide that their assets, or at least a large portion of them, go to their children in the event of death, and to work out arrangements for matters that may become problems after the marriage. For some, it is a smart and practical way to acknowledge the fact that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce.

Are prenuptial agreements valid?

Most states generally favor prenuptial agreements because they encourage people who might not get married to become married.

However, whether prenuptial agreement you are considering will be valid depends on many facts and circumstances.

What should I do to have a valid premarital agreement?

Generally you will want to

  1. make full and complete written disclosure of each others’ assets and liabilities, well in advance of the wedding,
  2. make sure that the terms are not unreasonable, and would be considered fair, under the circumstances, and
  3. give both parties a reasonable opportunity to review the proposed agreement with his and her own independent legal counsel well before the wedding. We do not advise springing an agreement on the bride/groom on the eve of the rehearsal dinner.

Can I do a pre-marital agreement without an attorney?

In theory you can do almost anything without an attorney. But the reason you want to have a pre-marital agreement is so that it is far more likely to stand up in the event of marital trouble.

Doing a Pre-Marital Agreement without separate counsel for each party is a road to disaster, and you’ll never know the danger until it is too late.

Contact the Falcón Law Firm, LLC to schedule a free initial consultation with a trusted attorney.

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