Adoption is a legal process that involves numerous individuals and entities.
In the case of grandparent adoptions in Georgia, these players have distinct roles to play in ensuring the best possible outcome for the adoptee grandchild.
At Your Law Firm, we want to help you be as informed as possible about the grandparent adoption process.
That’s why we made this page, so you can know who all the possible ‘players’ will be in your journey to adopt your grandchild or grandchildren.
Let’s dive right in.
Adopting Grandparent or Grandparents
In Georgia, a grandparent or great-grandparent can initiate the adoption process whether they are single or married.
If married, both spouses must jointly adopt the grandchild.
This provision allows for the continuity of care and legal responsibility from both grandparents, ensuring the welfare of the child.
Adoptee Grandchild or Grandchildren
This is the child or children seeking to be adopted by their grandparents.
For older children, it’s important to note that the consent of the grandchild is paramount if they are 14 years or older.
The law in Georgia respects the autonomy of older children, recognizing their capacity to make decisions about their lives.
Their agreement to be adopted by their grandparents is crucial in the adoption process, for 14 or older children.
Biological and Legal Parents
While biological and legal parents are not parties to the adoption, their rights must be considered.
If there's no surrender of rights from them, the court must be petitioned to terminate their parental rights.
They must also be notified of this action and the ensuing court hearing.
This is an essential step in respecting the constitutional rights of the parents involved.
At the termination of parental rights hearing, the mother or father will be allowed to present evidence and argue to the court why their parental rights should not be terminated.
The adoption cannot move forward until the parent’s rights are either voluntarily surrendered or terminated by a court order.
Grandparent Adoption Attorney
Although an attorney is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia, we highly recommend partnering with an experienced local grandparent adoption attorney.
An attorney can ensure your case is presented optimally, especially when petitioning for termination of parental rights.
Remember, you only get one shot at this.
Court investigators are present in most large counties in Georgia.
They receive the results of your background check and conduct a home study if applicable.
This service, ordered by the court, comes at a cost to the adopting grandparents.
Guardian ad Litem
A guardian ad litem is appointed in contested cases or when the judge needs to ascertain what is in the best interest of the child.
Their job is to conduct an independent investigation focusing on the child's welfare.
The cost of this service depends on the judge's orders.
In larger counties, a specific clerk handles adoption cases.
They review all filings and ensure that the file is complete and protected under seal.
If there are deficiencies in your adoption petition or subsequent supporting documents, the adoptions clerk will let you know.
Judge and Judge’s Staff
A judge will oversee your grandparent adoption case.
They will hear your case and any termination of parental rights hearings.
Coordination with the judge's staff ensures timely court dates and proper documentation of the hearing.
Intervening parties come into play in contested grandparent adoptions.
These can be other relatives, foster parents seeking to adopt the child, or a biological father trying to legitimate and become the legal father.
It’s important to have your evidence and case ready to back up why you, and not these other parties, should be granted the right to adopt your grandchild - and that it is in your grandchild’s best interest for this to happen as well.
In cases where the Department of Family and Child Services (DFCS) is involved in moving to terminate the parental rights, DFCS workers play a significant role in the adoption process.
DFCS, through the Special Assistant Attorney General (SAAG), is allowed to be a party to the adoption process, when appropriate.
Navigating through a grandparent adoption in Georgia involves understanding the roles of various players and complying with legal requirements.
Engaging an experienced attorney can provide invaluable help, ensuring a smooth process that upholds the best interests of the child.
At Your Law Firm, we are committed to providing expert legal guidance throughout this journey.
Give us a call today to discuss your options in adopting your grandchild in Georgia. We are happy to help any way we can.