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Must an attorney and the court be involved in my adoption?

The prospect of adoption is exciting for many Atlanta residents, but the reality is that it can be a long and complicated process. The best interests of the child must be kept in mind at all times, so the adoptive parents are obligated to prove that they are worthy parents. So what exactly is involved in the process? Do the adoptive parents have to hire an attorney? Does the adoption have to be finalized by the court?

The process does need to be approved by an adoption court, even if it is done through an agency. The adoptive parents must file a petition and everyone interested in the adoption must attend a hearing. As in a divorce, the court will be looking out for the child's best interests. Therefore, it is up to the adoptive parents to show why the adoption is in the child's best interests. If the judge approves, he or she will issue a decree making the adoption final. The parent-child relationship will be legally recognized and the parents can change the child's last name, if they desire.

It is not required that you hire an attorney to represent you in adoption court. It is not a good idea, however, to try to handle the adoption without an attorney. Drafting the petition and complying with all the legal requirements of the adoption process can be complicated, and a misstep can result in the adoption being denied.

Adoption is a complicated process that should not be done alone. It's in your best interest to hire a family law attorney who has experience writing petitions and understands adoption laws.

Source: FindLaw, "Adoption Court FAQs," accessed Feb. 8, 2015

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