Adoption Lawyers Serve Central Arkansas & Saline County
Guiding families through the adoption process
At Huffman Butler, PLLC we understand that adding a member to your family can be complicated. Our skilled adoption lawyers are here to make the process run as smoothly as possible. Whether you are a birth mother, new parent, stepparent or grandparent, we protect your best interests.
Adoption is the legal process by which someone other than a child’s biological parents assumes legal responsibility for the child. Once the adoption is finalized, the child is considered a blood relative of the adoptive parent and the relationship between the biological parents and the child are severed.
When most people hear the word adoption, they think of a birth mother giving up her child for adoption to a couple seeking a child. However, adoptions can take many forms. Our law firm routinely handles relative’s adoptions, including by aunts, uncles and grandparents.
Under Arkansas law, the following people may adopt someone else:
- A husband and wife together
- An unmarried adult who is not living with someone with whom they have a sexual relationship
- The unmarried father or mother of the individual to be adopted
- A married person without the other spouse joining as a petitioner (e.g., stepparent adoption)
Consent from the biological parent
Under Arkansas law, the consent of the biological parents is generally required, though several key exceptions exist. For instance, absentee parents who have not spent time with the child or paid child support need not give permission. The other common exception is when parental rights are terminated by order, often at the request of the Department of Human Services (DHS) or Child Protective Services (CPS). It is also important to note that a child age 12 or older must give his or her consent in open court.
A qualified lawyer can walk you through the adoption process
Adoption can be a complicated legal process, even when it is not contested. A knowledgeable and caring adoption lawyer in Benton can walk you through the steps and answer any questions that you may have along the way. The typical adoption involves the following key steps:
- Petition for adoption — The person adopting a child must file a petition with the clerk of the court
- Consent or waiver of consent — The adoption proceeds more smoothly if the natural mother and father consent to it. However, the court may decide it is not required if their parental rights have already been terminated
- Certified statement from the Putative Father Registry — In cases where the child to be adopted was born to an unmarried woman, a statement is required verifying that no information about the supposed father is available on the state’s registry. If there is information listed, the petitioner must attest that he has been notified
- Home study — Arkansas requires an investigation of the suitability of the petitioner, which is conducted by a child welfare agency, or that a social worker checks the suitability of the home. This study can be waived for adoptions by a relative
- Hearing and placement — If the court concludes that the adoption requirements have been met and that adoption is in the child’s best interests, the court will order the adoption
- Final adoption decree — The child must live in the adoptive home for at least six months after placement or for at least six months after the petition for adoption is filed (with the exception of stepparent adoption). After that time, the court issues the final decree, which legally creates a parent-child relationship
Call our legal team for your adoption needs in central Arkansas
Make sure everything goes as planned by hiring an experienced adoption lawyer. At Huffman Butler, PLLC we offer comprehensive adoption services. For a free initial consultation, call 501-315-5297 or book an appointment on our online scheduler.