When you choose to adopt a child through private domestic adoption, a court will need to address the rights of the birth parents. Typically, this is not a problem; the birth mother and (many times) father are usually making an adoption plan because they understand that adoption is the best choice for their child and voluntarily give their consent to have their parental rights terminated.
However, this is not the case all the time. When a birth parent (in many cases, the birth father) attempts to block an adoption, it’s known as a contested adoption.
Contested adoption cases in South Carolina require additional legal steps to successfully adopt a child. If you are party to a contested adoption, you may need to attend a special hearing on the adoption — which is why you will need an experienced legal professional to represent you.
Our law firm has handled many contested adoption cases and is available to accept cases from adoption agencies and other attorneys who are not as comfortable or as experienced in contested litigation. No matter how far along you are at in your adoption process, we can help you understand the birth parent rights and responsibilities and contested adoption laws you need to know.
To talk about your individual situation, please call us at 864-573-5533. For more information on contested adoption, we’ve laid out some important facts below.
What is a Contested Adoption?
While contested adoptions are rare, there is always the possibility that a case may become contested. For instance, some adoptions are anticipated to be voluntary and uncontested and yet later become contested adoptions. Similarly, some adoptions begin in a contested posture, but during the litigation process, the parties, through their counsel, find a way to resolve the conflict through discussion or mediation. In short, your law firm should be available to represent adoptive parents when their adoption becomes contested.
Typically, contested adoptions occur in cases of private domestic adoption or foster care adoption when a biological parent objects to the adoption. When they’re approached about giving their consent, they object and cause the adoption to become “contested.”
There are several reasons why a biological parent may contest an adoption:
- In infant adoption: A birth father might contest the adoption because he was misled about the pregnancy, he changes his mind, he claims the birth mother thwarted his efforts to assist her or there was a case of mistaken identity of the birth father. A birth mother or father may also contest the jurisdiction of the court, including the validity of consent documents already given.
- In foster care adoption: An adoption may be contested when the foster child has been removed from their biological parents’ home and an attempt to terminate the parental rights has been made, but the parents object and try to have the child returned to their custody.
Because contested adoption cases will vary significantly based on the individual situation, it’s impossible to say how each one will play out. However, generally, if a birth parent contests an adoption in court, adoption proceedings will halt and a contested adoption hearing will occur.
What is a Contested Adoption Hearing?
If you undergo a contested adoption, the legal proceedings may vary from case to case. Typically, your contested adoption may involve a contested adoption hearing.
In this hearing, a judge will determine whether a birth father followed the necessary steps for his consent to be required for an adoption. At this hearing, a judge will also consider what outcome is in the child’s best interest.
If winning a contested adoption ends up being a part of your adoption process, the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson can provide all of the necessary contested adoption support (legal and emotional).
How We Can Help Prevent Contested Adoptions in S.C.
Going through a contested adoption can be an intimidating prospect, but if you complete your private domestic adoption through our law firm, we take several steps to prevent the likelihood of one happening to you.
First, we provide extensive counseling and support services to every prospective birth parent that approaches us. By walking them through all of their choices and the process of adoption, as well as providing referrals to a licensed counselor for additional support, we help ensure that every birth parent has considered their options and is comfortable placing their child for adoption before they are matched with a prospective adoptive family.
During this early process, we also investigate the birth father situation involved. Attorney Jim Thompson and our social workers work together to assess the birth father’s involvement in the adoption plan.
By sorting out all of these legal processes before we even match a prospective birth mother with an adoptive family, we reduce the likelihood that a contested adoption will take place later on, saving you the stress and additional costs that may come with a contested adoption after you’ve been matched.
If a contested adoption does occur, you’re in good hands with our legal counsel; we’re committed to representing you vigorously and knowledgeably. Our trained social workers’ counseling may also resolve adoption conflict before it turns into a legal dispute.
But, if necessary, we will provide experienced and ethical legal counsel to guide you through contested adoption litigation. To learn more about how we can help with your contested adoption, please call us today at 864-573-5533 or contact us online.