Texas Adult Adoption Guide
By: James Brandon Gaines, Texas Attorney - Last update: January 2nd, 2018
What is an Adult Adoption?
An adoption creates a legal relationship between two parties that previously did not exist. It declares that the person being adopted is legally the “child” of the adoptive parent and becomes the adopting parent’s legal heir. The person being adopted is entitled to all of the rights and privileges and is subject to all of the obligations of a child born to the adoptive parent.
The most common reason to adopt an adult is for inheritance purposes. In this case, adult adoption allows someone to leave property or financial assets to the adopted individual more easily.
The second reason our clients seek an adult adoption, is to formalize a parent-child relationship. When a previous adult-stepchild, foster parent-foster child, or informal parent-child relationship existed, the adult parties may want to formalize the relationship through adoption.
Lastly, we handle cases where the adult to be adopted requires perpetual care. If the person to be adopted is of diminished capacity or abilities, adoption may provide a means of assuring him/her of lifetime care under family insurance, as a legal family member, or through inheritance.
When the Texas adoption is completed, the child will have the following benefits: Two legal parents active in the child’s life, a new birth certificate, the ability to inherit from adoptive parent, and a new name (if desired).
Adopting an Adult in Texas
Adoption is the same legal process whether the individual is a child or an adult. The court issues a new birth certificate for the adopted individual and any existing legal relationships with biological or custodial parents are severed. The adopted adult can change his or her last name, also called a surname change, and all adoption records will be sealed.
An amended birth certificate will be issued for the adopted person, showing the adoptive parent(s) as birth parents.
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Adult Adoptions Can be Rejected if Not Properly Drafted
It is true that adult adoptions are not always granted. Adult adoption petitions can be rejected because of a preexisting sexual relationship between the two parties, preventing same sex couples from gaining rights over one another. Since the courts are formalizing the relationship of parent and child; hence, any sexual relationship will prohibit the adoption.
In Texas, restrictions exist that require the adopting party to be older than the person adopted. That is why age differences are a very common reason that a Judge will reject an adult adoption.
Lastly, if a Judge suspects fraud, the adult adoption will be rejected. Fraud generally includes someone asking a wealthy individual to adopt him or her in order to inherit property. If the adopting party doesn't fully consent or understand the act, the courts will suspect fraud.
For these reasons, it is crucial that you consult with a licensed adoption attorney before you begin the process of adopting an adult
Your Day in Court
Adult Adoption proceedings are filed in the district court in your county. After all of the necessary steps have been followed, there will be a hearing before the Judge. The children take active participation in the adoption ceremony and families are welcome to bring their cameras and take pictures with the judge.
If all is in place, an order will be signed and the adult adoption will be finalized.The court will finalize the adult adoption and issue a decree stating that you have rights of custody and the right to make medical and educational decisions for the child.If all is going smoothly and the other parent relinquished rights, this is a time for the judge to make sure all the documents are in the file and that all the requirements have been met.
The Effect of an Adult Adoption
Once the adult adoption is approved, families can move forward with hope and excitement for the future. Moreover, stepparent adoption of your spouse’s child is permanent and cannot be reversed by a separation or divorce. The child will have a relationship with the adoptive parent that is the same as if the child were born to the parent. These rights will continue even if the marriage of the parents results in divorce.
The practical effect of this is that the adoptive parent has all the liabilities and responsibilities that are associated with parenthood, including the potential obligation to pay child support in the future. The adoption allows the child to inherit from the “new” parent and it will allow that parent to enroll the child on a group health insurance plan through an employer.If children are old enough, they are encouraged to determine what their new name will be. Overall, it is a joyous experience that makes any troubles getting there worthwhile.
How Attorney Prime Can Help
We will handle all issues related to a adult adoption, preparing and filing all documentation to complete the process, and acting as your liaison with the courts.
In our experience, adult adoptions can be simple when both parties are in communication and agreement. Frequently, the parent is filling a role that the previous legal parent has neglected to fill. When necessary, we will also help the court understand why the adoption should take place.
Additional Adoption Resources
Contact the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, P.O. Box 149030, Mail Code, E558 Austin, TX 78714-9030, (512) 438-3127, for information on Texas state adoptions, 1-800-233-3405; private adoption agencies, (512) 438-3251; the adoption resource exchange and photo listing, (512) 438-3357; and post-adoption services, (512) 438-3302.
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Texas Law Specifically:
Texas Statutes, Family Code, “Title 5. The Parent-Child Relationship and the Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship,” Subtitle B Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship, Chapter 162. Adoption
SUBCHAPTER F. ADOPTION OF AN ADULT
§ 162.501. Adoption of Adult
The court may grant the petition of an adult residing in this state to adopt another adult according to this subchapter.
§ 162.502. Jurisdiction
The petitioner shall file a suit to adopt an adult in the district court or a statutory county court granted jurisdiction in family law cases and proceedings by Chapter 25, Government Code, in the county of the petitioner’s residence.
§ 162.503. Requirements of Petition
(a) A petition to adopt an adult shall be entitled “In the Interest of __________, An Adult.”
(b) If the petitioner is married, both spouses must join in the petition for adoption.
§ 162.504. Consent
A court may not grant an adoption unless the adult consents in writing to be adopted by the petitioner.
§ 162.505. Attendance Required
The petitioner and the adult to be adopted must attend the hearing. For good cause shown, the court may waive this requirement, by written order, if the petitioner or adult to be adopted is unable to attend.
§ 162.506. Adoption Order
The court shall grant the adoption if the court finds that the requirements for adoption of an adult are met.
§ 162.507. Effect of Adoption
(a) The adopted adult is the son or daughter of the adoptive parents for all purposes.
(b) The adopted adult is entitled to inherit from and through the adopted adult’s adoptive parents as though the adopted adult were the biological child of the adoptive parents.
(c) The adopted adult retains the right to inherit from the adult’s biological parents. However, a biological parent may not inherit from or through an adopted adult.