Equitable Adoption Lawyers

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Most Common Family Law Issues:

What Is an Equitable Adoption?

An equitable adoption, also called constructive adoption, is a type of adoption recognized without a court order where the actions or promises by the parent create a contract for adoption between the parent and the child.  For example, if a parent takes a child into his home and treats the child as his own without going through adoption proceedings, the law will recognize this as an adoption and the parent must continue to act as the child's parent.

What Happens If a Parent Denies the Adoption?

In situations of equitable adoption, there is no formal court order which states that the rights and obligations of the natural parents have been terminated and that the adoptive parents must assume these obligations and rights.  Because of this, parents will sometimes deny the adoption.  However, if the parent is found to have acted in such a way as to create an equitable adoption, the parent cannot refuse or deny the adoption.  An action to enforce an equitable adoption is called adoption by estoppel, which means that the child brings an action to stop the parent or another from denying an adoption.

How Does Equitable Adoption Affect Wills and Estates?

The issue of equitable adoptions and adoptions by estoppel usually arise when the adoptive parent dies without a will and the child presents a claim to a part of the estate as an heir.  Also, if the parent dies with a will but does not mention the adopted child, the child may still have a claim to a part of the estate because most states will not allow a child to be disinherited without an explicit statement that the child should get nothing.  In these cases, the child will have to establish that a contract for adoption was formed through some actions or promises by the parent, and that the child was adopted without the legal procedures.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

The laws regarding equitable adoption and wills and estates are very complex and can vary drastically between states.  If you believe that an equitable adoption existed between you and an adoptive parent, an experienced family law attorney can advise you of your rights and options under the law.  A lawyer can also represent you in court if needed.

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Last Modified: 07-20-2012 02:42 PM PDT

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