If you are planning to adopt a child, you might be wondering if you need an adoption attorney. Discover the answer in this guide.
If you are considering adopting a child or adult, you are not alone. According to the latest data, around 120,869 adoptions happen in the US each year. 1,687 of these adoptions occur in Minnesota.
Adoption means that you become the legal parent of the child or adult you are adopting. This gives your adopted child the same legal rights as a biological child. That includes rights to inheritance and emotional and financial support.
There is a lot at stake when it comes to filing for adoption in Minnesota. That is why many individuals choose to seek legal representation. A family lawyer who specializes in adoptions can help navigate this complicated legal process.
Are you wondering about Minnesota’s adoption laws and how the right attorney can represent you in your case? Keep reading this guide for everything you need to know before you file.
Adoption Laws in Minnesota
There are three types of adoption in Minnesota:
- Public adoptions
- International or inter-country adoption
- Private adoption
In Minnesota, public adoptions are the most common by far. These adoptions occur through the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS). Adoptive parents may be former foster parents.
Private adoptions are often called family adoptions. They include stepchild adoptions, which is when step-parents adopt their spouse’s child or children.
Who Can Adopt in Minnesota?
Minnesota residents who are at least 21 years of age or older can legally file for adoption. You must also pass a background check, participate in pre-adoption training, and have sufficient income to support the child or children.
Residents are people who have lived in the state for over a year. If the adoption is in the child’s best interest, you can have this requirement reduced to 30 days or waived entirely.
Whom Can You Adopt in Minnesota?
Minnesota residents who meet the above criteria can legally adopt children or adults (adoptees). You can adopt your stepchild, a relative, a foster child, and more. There are dozens of scenarios where adoption may be the right option.
Can You Adopt a Child Without Their Consent in Minnesota?
Yes, you can adopt a child without their consent in Minnesota as long as the child is 13 years of age or younger.
For minor children, the child’s parent(s) or guardian must also give consent for the adoption. If the parent is also a minor, his or her parent or guardian must also consent to the adoption.
In the absence of a parent or guardian, the court commissioner can give consent for the adoption of a minor. Adoptees aged 14 years or older have to give written consent before you can adopt them.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Adopt a Child in Minnesota?
You have the legal right to represent yourself during adoption proceedings in Minnesota, but the judge in your case will expect you to understand the applicable laws.
The stakes are high during an adoption. Preparing your own adoption case can also be a significant time commitment. For these reasons and more, most people choose to work with an experienced adoption attorney.
An experienced lawyer understands adoption law inside and out. They can manage all the details for you and your family. That way, you can focus on your family.
What Does an Adoption Attorney Do?
Adoption attorneys are a type of family lawyer that specializes in adoption laws. They can help you navigate this complex process. Or your attorney can completely take the burden of the filing process off your shoulders.
Depending on your unique situation, your adoption lawyer may help you with one or more of the following services:
- Helping you find an adoption agency and communicating with them
- Preparing the adoption papers and documentation
- Ordering background checks for the adoptive parent(s)
- Prepping your for the home interview
- Dealing with any legal issues that come up during the process
- Arranging the reimbursement for the parent’s birth expenses
Your attorney will also be there to support your family every step of the way. An experienced adoption lawyer can help you understand adoption laws that pertain to your case.
As we mentioned, you can legally represent yourself in these cases. However, if you are adopting a non-relative and especially a non-relative who lives outside of the US, you need expert legal advice for the best results.
How to Find the Right Adoption Attorney
You should not hire just any legal expert to represent you. Hire a local family attorney who specializes in adoption and has a successful track record. But how do you find the best lawyer for you?
Here are three tips for doing just that.
Ask for Referrals
Do you have any friends, family members, or colleagues who have gone through the adoption process before? If the adoption was successful and smooth, ask for their former lawyer’s information and schedule a consultation.
Another option is to ask your adoption agency if you have one. Agencies often have working relationships with legal experts who specialize in adoption law.
Vet Lawyers Online
Once you have a short list of potential lawyers, it’s time to do your research. Read reviews posted online and on the attorney’s website. You can find lawyer reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, Avvo, Just, Martindale-Hubbell, and more.
Also, make sure to run a state bar search. You can verify the attorney’s legal standing, credentials, education, and background.
Schedule a Consultation
Once you’ve narrowed your list down to two or three lawyers, schedule consultations. It is crucial to meet and talk with potential legal representatives before you sign a representation agreement.
Bring a list of questions to your initial consultation. Ask about the lawyer’s experience, past results, fee structure, and any other questions you may have.
We recommend going with a firm like ours that has a flat fee instead of an hourly rate. That way, you know exactly what you’ll pay for representation upfront and in full.
Searching for an “Adoption Lawyer Near Me”?
Adoption is an exciting beginning for families in Minnesota. To make sure everything goes off without a hitch, you need an expert adoption attorney on your side.
Are you looking for adoption lawyers in Minneapolis, Rochester, or Duluth? Johnson/Turner Legal is ready to represent you. Book a consultation with us today to learn why we’re the best choice for your Minnesota adoption.