Adoption and Guardianship
The attorneys at Rice & Rice have an immense amount of experience in regards to adoption and guardianship proceedings. We offer affordable solutions to all phases of this process, even trial. We know how sensitive these issues can be and accordingly provide intimate care and personalization of each case.
The adoption process of a child can occur in several ways. There are adoptions known as Independent Adoptions, in which Social Services or other licensed agencies are not involved. An example of this is when a stepparent adopts a child if one birth parent retains custody and control of the child. Additionally, there is Agency Adoption, where the child is placed with an agency due to various reasons (court orders parents deemed “unfit” or the child is given voluntarily) (Fam.C. §8500).
Once a child becomes adopted, the legal relationship between the child and their biological parent becomes cut-off and the biological parents lose all “parental rights”. The adopting parents enter into a legal relationship, and thus inherit all legal rights of the child. Under very special circumstances, a biological parent or the child’s biological relatives may be allowed to visit the adopted child if a “kinship agreement” is approved by the court.
Guardianship can take place when the court appoints and grants to an individual who is not a biological parent the right to “provide maximum safety and protection for the child.” A Guardian may be appointed if a child has been neglected or exploited, or physically, sexually, or emotionally abused (Welf & IC § 300.2). Furthermore, a guardian may be appointed if one parent or both becomes sick, goes to jail, or becomes homeless.
The main goal of the court is to maintain the physical and emotional well-being of the children at hand. Thus, when a Guardian is appointed, they may obtain custodial rights of the child, become entrusted with caring for the minor’s estate, or all of the above. In Guardianship hearings, biological parents may get visitation rights if permitted by the Guardian. Consequently, this differs from adoption since biological parents maintain “parental rights” in Guardianship. Biological parents may also still be obligated to pay support, and depending on the matter, the Guardian may be entitled reimbursement from the minor’s estate if the Guardian must use their own funds for support of the minor.