Manassas Family Law Attorney
If you are thinking about divorce or separation in northern Virginia, the Manassas family law attorneys at Simms Showers LLP can advise you on your options and provide you with the skilled representation you need to start the next chapter of your life with your rights, property and dignity intact. Our full-service family lawyers help with every aspect of limited and complete divorce in Virginia, including child custody disputes involving both domestic and international child custody and visitation, child support issues, spousal support, and the division of marital property. We also negotiate, draft and review pre and postmarital agreements, and challenge or defend their enforcement in court as needed. We help new and blended families through successful intra-family adoption procedures, and provide swift, needed support in matters involving family violence or domestic assault.
Manassas is a modern city with a rich history where thousands choose to make their homes and raise their families. For all of your family law needs in Manassas, call Simms Showers LLP and trust your case to a team of knowledgeable and experienced attorneys dedicated to serving the people of northern Virginia.
Stepparent and Confirmatory Adoption in Manassas
Should a stepfather formally adopt his wife’s kids? What happens if the child’s birth father is out of the picture but objects to the adoption anyway? Every family situation is different, but stepparent adoption can benefit children in many ways. After a stepparent adoption:
- The adopted children have a right to inherit from the adoptive parent
- The children can get health insurance through their parent’s employer
- The adoptive parent will be responsible for supporting the child financially, even paying child support if the couple later get divorced
- The child will become a beneficiary of the parent for purposes of Social Security, veterans’ benefits, or other government programs
Besides these practical, financial aspects of adoption, adopting your wife’s children will also help solidify the family unit and show the children how deeply committed you are to them, which may be an important emotional bond they were previously missing in their lives.
The Manassas family law attorneys at Simms Showers LLP help stepparents adopt their stepchildren through legal proceedings in the Prince William County Circuit Court. Here are important facts to know about stepparent and confirmatory adoption in Virginia:
The spouse of a birth parent or parent by adoption can apply to adopt his wife’s kids. Virginia law also allows another “person with a legitimate interest” as defined by law to adopt the birth parent’s children, even if he is not married to the mother.
The adoptive parent and the birth parent need to file the petition jointly in the Prince William County Circuit Court if the child resides in Manassas. The purpose of a joint petition is to show that the birth mother consents to the adoption. The parties can also use the petition to change the child’s last name to the stepfather’s name after the adoption.
The court can order adoption in any of the following circumstances:
- The child’s birth father is deceased
- The child’s birth father consents to the adoption in writing and under oath
- The child’s (assumed) birth father denies paternity
- The birth mother swears under oath in writing that the identity of the father is not reasonably ascertainable
- The child is 14 or older and has lived with the stepfather for at least five years
If the court decides there should be an investigation first, the judge refers the case to social services for an investigation and report before deciding whether to allow the adoption.
If the birth father refuses to consent to the adoption, the court decides whether that consent is withheld contrary to the best interests of the child. In making this determination, the judge will consider factors like the following:
- Has the birth father made efforts to obtain or maintain custody?
- Is the birth father willing and able to assume custody?
- Has the birth father’s efforts to assert parental rights been thwarted by other parties?
- Does the birth father have the ability to care for the child?
- What is the quality of the birth father’s previous relationship with the child?
Based on these factors and others, the judge can order an adoption and name change with or without asking for an investigation from social services first.
Close Relative Adoption
Virginia law also allows for a “close relative placement,” which is adoption by a child’s grandparent, great-grandparent, adult nephew or niece, adult brother or sister, adult uncle or aunt, adult great uncle or great aunt, stepparent, adult stepbrother or stepsisters, or other adult relatives of the child by marriage or adoption. This adoption can take place with the signed, written consent under oath of the birth parents. The legal proceedings required for a close relative adoption are similar to other adoption placements, but the procedure is somewhat more relaxed and easier to accomplish. The legal requirements differ depending on how long the child has been placed with the adoptive parents.
Personal and Dedicated Help With Your Manassas Family Law Needs
Whether you are a stepparent looking to adopt your spouse’s kids or a birth parent who opposes an adoption and having your parental rights terminated, skilled and knowledgeable legal assistance will help protect your rights and ensure you successfully reach your goals. For help with an intra-family adoption in Manassas and for all your family law needs, call Simms Showers LLP at 703-721-4449 to speak with a skilled and experienced Manassas family law attorney.