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"Competent, Caring and Responsive"

Finding the Ideal Private Placement Adoption Attorney in East Idaho

Adopting a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences for any couple. It is a complex process and most adoptive parents benefit greatly from the knowledge and expertise of an experience adoption attorney.

Categories of Adoption in Idaho

If you and your spouse are considering seeking custody of a child, it would be wise to obtain the support and representation of an attorney who is familiar with the state and federal laws that govern the different types of adoption.

The types of adoption that take place in Idaho includes:

  • Public agency adoptions: These adoptions are facilitated by the Social Services division of the Department of Health and Welfare in Idaho, and are limited to the adoption of children within the foster care system.
  • Private placement adoptions: These adoptions are state-licensed and can be for non-profit or for-profit organizations, and typically involve children with special needs, domestic and/or international infant adoption.
  • Independent (also known as private) adoptions: The birth parent or parents place the child directly within the care of an adoptive parent for the purpose of adoption.
  • Step-parent adoptions: These are the most common type of adoption. When a parent remarries the step-parent develops a relationship with the child and in some cases takes the place of the absent natural parent. Independent of the current issues regarding same gender marriages, Idaho’s Supreme Court is starting to recognizing adoptions in non-marital situations, such as with domestic partnerships, relying upon statutory language that states that “any minor child may be adopted by any adult person.” At the present time it is likely that only two persons at a time would be recognized as the parents of a child.
  • Adult Adoptions: There is also the possibility for an adult to be adopted by another adult in situations where there has previously existed a parent/child relationship.

Requirements for an adoption

In the State of Idaho, the adoptive family is required by law to participate in a current home study, except for a step-parent adoption. The home study provides a written assessment of the prospective parent’s ability to provide and care for the adopted child. Home studies are not required in instances where the prospective parent is either married to the birth parent or is the grandparent of the child in question, unless one is specifically ordered by the court. Adoption home studies may be completed by a person or entity approved by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare or by a licensed private adoption agency.

The adoptive parent must be 15 years older than the person adopted, or at least 25 years of age, unless the adoption is a step-parent adoption.

Adoptions also require that one or both of the natural parent(s)’ parental rights be terminated , have not been established (example father has not registered with the State as the father or not on the birth certificate) has died, etc.

Having a knowledgeable and experienced adoption attorney in East Idaho can help your adoption go through smoothly.

Defining Substantial and Material Change of Circumstances for Modifying Child Custody and Child Support Orders

The laws governing child custody in Idaho is similar to the laws in other states as there is a general agreement in terms of child custody. For example, almost every law in the country is based on the assumption that the best interests of the children should always be the primary consideration when determining aspects of a divorce such as custody and support.

However, the law also recognizes that circumstances rarely remain static, and that a child custody order that made sense at the time of the divorce may cease to be beneficial years later. As a result, questions arise as to whether or not child custody orders should be modified. If such a question arises in your case, you should look at consulting with a qualified family law attorney. While an attorney is not required, their advice will be invaluable in deciding whether or not you can and should seek to modify a custody order.

Substantial and Material Change

The term ‘substantial and material change of circumstances’ is a legal phrase that is variously and loosely defined. The court must recognize a substantial change in the circumstances of one or both parents in order to justify changing custody and child support orders. For example, some common facts that often meet the substantial material change circumstances in Bonneville County, Idaho include:

  • Significant change in income for either parent (for child support changes.
  • Health problems for either parent or the child
  • Substance abuse problems
  • Co-habitation with person(s) who pose a risk to the children.
  • Inadequate care of children the other parent
  • A need to relocate to a new geographical area

Other Reasons

Judges have some discretion in accepting the definition of substantial material change. Even the mere passage of time can sometimes be a basis for reviewing court orders because a child has more ability to feel secure going between homes and/or desires to spend more time with a particular parent.

Adoption Agreements

Adoption Placement Agreement

The traditional concept of adoption, supported by endless melodramatic stories on television and in films, is one of anonymity: The child “given up” by the mother and raised without knowing they are adopted. Becoming more common today is an “open adoption” which has various meanings. An open adoption could mean that the child’s status is not kept secret and could include provisions to keep the birth parent or parents involved. This may occur when relatives of the natural parents are the adoptive parents or when a former spouse gives up his or her parental rights in favor of the new spouse. Adoption agreements may significantly limit the natural parent’s involvement. Oft times the natural parent may be limited to being provided progress information and photographs of the child on a periodic basis or designate a time when the child will be informed of his natural parents(s), etc.

The Agreement

Many families attempt to define boundaries and parameters in an “Adoption Agreement” or “Kinship Agreement.” This can be either a verbal or formal written contract that sets out acceptable levels of contact and involvement for the birth parent(s) and attempts to head off potential conflict. Sometimes these are formally filed with the court; sometimes they are merely signed by both parties in good faith.

Like any other agreement, care should be taken to make the agreement evolve along with the real-life situation.

Representation/Mediation in Open Adoption

Whether for the first time or when an agreement needs to be advised, the parties can avoid problems by using a qualified attorney to represent their interest to address necessary matters. If a conflict arises, the early use of the mediator could avoid litigation, costs, parents being cut off, or the minor being subject to the conflict, causing harm to the child’s well-being. When both sets of parents enter into mediation with the best interests of the child in mind, they can be guided by a trained, professional mediator towards a solution that is healthy for all involved – especially the child. Mediation by its very nature keeps the lines of communication open, which is what a Contact Agreement is designed to do in the first place, and helps to identify the reasons why the agreement no longer works. Often, this means that each side understands the other’s difficulties clearly for the first time, and the sense of familial bond that inspired the Open Adoption in the first place returns.

Mediation isn’t a “magic bullet” that solves all problems – but for Open Adoptions that are founded on the concept of honesty and connection, it is often the best solution.

David A. Johnson has been providing quality legal services in East Idaho. As both a private attorney and as a former Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney, Mr. Johnson has substantial courtroom experience. Mr. Johnson has handled cases all over the State of Idaho. His primary areas of practice are in Bonneville, Bingham, Butte, Jefferson, Madison, Fremont Bannock and Jefferson Counties. In addition, to Idaho Falls, we serve residences in the Blackfoot, Shelley, Firth, Rigby, Rexburg, St. Anthony, Ashton, Ammon, Driggs and Victor, Idaho. [Read more..]