Adopting a grandchild in Georgia can be both an emotionally rewarding and financially significant endeavor.
A question we often get at Your Law Firm from grandparents seeking to adopt is: “how much is this going to cost?”
While the value you will receive from adopting your grandchild and providing them with a loving, caring home is immeasurable in money, the truth is that it does take financial investment in order to begin and complete the adoption process.
Below, we aim to provide a comprehensive breakdown of the financial costs involved in a Georgia grandparent adoption, so you can be prepared for what to expect.
Overview of Costs in a Georgia Grandparent Adoption
The overall cost of a grandparent adoption in Georgia varies depending on numerous factors such as attorney fees, court costs, service fees and other third-party charges.
It is important to understand these costs to ensure a smooth legal process and transition into becoming the legal parent of your grandchild.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these common costs.
Grandparent Adoption Attorney Fees in Georgia
Legal representation is crucial in navigating the complex legal landscape of grandparent adoption.
The cost of legal services is contingent upon the complexities of your specific case.
If you have complete support from the child’s parents for adopting your grandchild, then the cost will be much lower than if the child’s parents are fighting you every step of the way.
These attorney fees may range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on your case.
However, you only get one real shot at adopting your grandchild, so you want to make sure you put in the investment upfront to partner with an experienced and supportive attorney and legal team in your Georgia grandparent adoption.
Court Costs and Filing Fees in Georgia Grandparent Adoption
Court costs and filing fees are unavoidable expenses in the adoption process.
These comprise the charges for filing the petition for adoption and other related documents with the court.
The exact amount varies by county, but you can usually expect to spend several hundreds of dollars.
Private Investigator Fees and Service Fees in a GA Grandparent Adoption
In certain cases, private investigator fees might be necessary to locate absent parents or to gather evidence supporting the adoption.
Service fees cover the cost of formally delivering the adoption notice to the biological parents or other relevant parties.
Most investigators start at several hundred dollars, and you can go up into the thousands, trying to locate and serve the parents, if they are evading service.
Also, if you cannot locate the parents to serve them personally or by mail, Georgia law requires you to post a notification in the appropriate newspaper in the county of their last known address and the county where the adoption is pending.
Service by publication can cost a few hundred dollars, especially if you have to run it in more than one county.
We recommend working with an experienced grandparent adoption attorney in your area to make sure you check all the boxes for serving and notifying your grandchild’s parents, if they did not already surrender their rights.
Court Appointed Investigator
A court investigator may be appointed to assess the validity of the grandparent’s adoption petition and any other item the court may want investigated.
Each county’s policies and costs are different. However, an example would be Cobb County, which as of 2023 charges $500 for their court investigator fee.
The court investigator also facilitates the fingerprint and background checking of each petitioner, which we will cover in a later section.
Other Third-Party Grandparent Adoption Fees
In the process of a Georgia grandparent adoption, there are other third-party fees that may or may not apply, depending on the specifics of your case.
These costs could include fees for services like obtaining certified copies of supporting documents, putative father registry searches, and background checks among others.
Let’s take a look at some of these types of other fees.
Originals or Certified copies of petition supporting documents
In the process of a grandparent adoption in Georgia, it is crucial to obtain original or certified copies of specific supporting documents for your petition.
This includes, but is not limited to, marriage certificates, death certificates, and divorce orders, as these provide vital evidence to corroborate your legal claim for adoption.
These are necessary to support the adoption petition. There may be additional costs associated with obtaining original or certified copies of these documents.
You need to provide proof of every marriage you have ever had in your lifetime.
If you are widowed, you will need to provide proof of your deceased spouse’s death, via their death certificate.
Additionally, if a parent of your grandchild has died, you also need to provide proof of their death by obtaining their death certificate.
If you are divorced, you must provide proof of each divorce with your final decree of divorce.
Putative Father Registry Search
This is a mandatory search in Georgia to identify any potential biological fathers of children.
If you are not sure of who your grandchild’s biological father is, you will need to run this search and attach the results to your adoption petition.
To do so, you or your attorney must contact the Georgia Department of Public Health and submit a request form with your information, the mother’s information, and the child’s information on it.
The cost for this is currently $10.00, but is subject to change at any time, so make sure you contact the Georgia DPH to make sure you send in the correct form and amount.
Fingerprint and background check
These checks are necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the child.
Usually, this fingerprinting and background check is facilitated by the court investigator.
You must go through a certain process and pay the correct fee for the appropriate background check to be done with your fingerprints.
The cost is about $100 right now, per person.
Do not go out and get the fingerprints done until you have signed up for the correct background check, otherwise you may have to redo and re-pay for everything.
If you are married, both you and your spouse will need to get fingerprinted for your grandparent adoption.
Vital Records Update / Birth Certificate
Post-adoption, the child’s birth certificate needs to be updated to reflect the new legal parentage.
The cost for this update is at least $35 - a $10 processing fee and a $25 search fee that includes one certified copy. If you need additional certified copies, they are $5 each, if requested at the same time.
You will fill out Form 3927, Certificate of Adoption, and send it into the Georgia DPH along with your payment.
At Your Law Firm, we make sure to facilitate this process for our clients, so you do not have to worry about it going to the wrong place or not being the correct fee paid.
After you receive the certified copy of your adopted grandchild’s birth certificate, you can change their name, if needed.
Guardian ad Litem
A Guardian ad Litem may be appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the child.
Usually, you only encounter this in a contested adoption with multiple prospective adoptive parents.
In such a case, the court will assign who will pay for the guardian’s fees and what amount, usually a percentage.
A guardian usually charges hourly, similar to an attorney, as they are usually attorneys as well.
Another instance where we have seen guardian ad litems appointed in an adoption case is if the case has roots in DFCS.
If the case originated in DFCS, your grandchild probably already has a guardian ad litem from the original case where they were removed from their parents’ custody.
In DFCS related cases, the state generally pays for the services of the guardian ad litem.
After your Georgia grandparent adoption is granted, it's important to be aware that there are additional costs you might incur.
These can include ongoing financial support for the child, potential updates to legal documents, and costs associated with raising a child such as medical expenses, schooling, and extracurricular activities.
Let’s take a closer look at these potential post-adoption costs.
Costs of Raising a Child
The general costs of raising a child encompass a broad range of financial responsibilities, including but not limited to, expenditures on food, housing, healthcare, education, clothing, and extracurricular activities, all of which contribute to the overall economic commitment involved in child-rearing.
If you were already caring for your grandchild full time prior to the adoption, you won’t likely see too much of a change in these costs.
Medical/dental/vision insurance and out of pocket medical costs
Upon the granting of your grandparent adoption, it's crucial to immediately add the child to your insurance policy.
Under federal law, ERISA specifically, employer-sponsored insurance must treat an adopted child the same way as a biological child, ensuring that they receive equivalent coverage.
You will likely need your final decree of adoption to show your insurance provider.
If you are on government healthcare, you can see if the child is also eligible for coverage under government healthcare programs, such as medicaid.
Once your grandchild is adopted by you, you will also be responsible for all healthcare costs not covered by insurance.
Make sure you have a plan in place for you to make such payments, if needed.
School and extracurricular costs
Following the successful completion of your grandparent adoption in Georgia, it becomes a legal requirement to enroll the child in an appropriate educational institution.
You will be responsible for the costs of their supplies and other school fees.
Additionally, you will be financially responsible for any extracurricular activities the child may participate in, such as sports, music, or clubs.
Daycare / After care
Upon the finalization of your grandparent adoption in Georgia, it may be necessary to consider child care options that align with your work schedule.
This could involve enrolling your child in a reputable daycare facility, or, if they are school-aged, arranging for aftercare services to ensure they are supervised and engaged in beneficial activities beyond regular school hours.
These are ongoing costs that need to be considered when planning for a grandparent adoption.
Updating Your Will and Other Estate Planning Documents
Following the granting of your grandparent adoption in Georgia, it is very important to promptly revise your estate planning documents.
This ensures that your legal heir - the adopted child - is accurately reflected in your wills, trusts, and other pertinent legal instruments, thereby safeguarding their future interests and rights.
Otherwise, if something happens to you and your will is not updated, it may not be clear who gets what, or who takes care of your adopted grandchild.
Inheritance for the child
Upon the successful completion of a grandparent adoption in Georgia, it is crucial to update your will to include the adopted child as a beneficiary.
This step, in accordance with Georgia law, ensures that your estate planning documents accurately reflect your current familial structure and protect the inheritance rights of the adopted child.
Guardian for the child
In the aftermath of a grandparent adoption in Georgia, it becomes crucial to designate a trusted individual in your will who would assume guardianship of the child in the event of your demise.
This legally-binding provision ensures the continued care and protection of the adopted child, reinforcing the stability and security integral to their wellbeing.
It is vital to ensure that the adopted child is included in your estate planning documents.
Partner with Your Law Firm for Your Georgia Grandparent Adoption
If you’re in the North Georgia or metro Atlanta area and would like a supportive legal partner in your grandparent adoption journey, we would like to partner with you.
Here are some of the reasons people choose us as their adoption legal team to partner with.
We are here to serve you, not nickel and dime you.
We understand the financial implications of adoption and strive to provide our services in a way that makes financial sense.
We are not for everybody, but those who we work with get more value out of their dollars every step of the way.
You will have transparency throughout all costs and billing processes.
We believe in complete transparency and will keep you informed about all costs associated with your case.
If you ever have any questions about how billing works, we are happy to answer all your inquiries.
Our value is greater than our price.
Our law firm's expertise and commitment to your case ensure that you receive the greatest value for your investment in your Georgia grandparent adoption.
Your goals are our goals, and we’d love to hear from you. Reach out today to start the conversation.
We’re happy to serve any way we can.