West Chester, PA 19380
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Lee Ciccarelli is the founder and managing partner of Ciccarelli Law Offices with over two decades experience as a practicing attorney.
These locations are available by appointment only
Adoption is the act of legally bringing a child into your life. It could be a child that you find, through domestic or foreign agencies. If could be a child that you helped become born, through surrogacy or through egg or sperm donation. Sometimes, this process involves a child already in your life, like a grandchild or stepchild, and you're seeking to become that child's legal parent.
Adoption is usually a process with much anticipation of a joyful result. However, it's a process best approached with the guidance of an experienced attorney, who can help ensure there are no short-term or long-term impacts on your new family's life.
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, we can help you maneuver this complex area of law. The combined experience of our team of attorneys and high priority on client communication is at your side, every step of the way.
Call us today at (877) 529-2422, or send us an online message, and we can schedule a free online consultation to talk about your adoption at one of our many meeting locations. You can speak one on one with a dedicated Pennsylvania family law attorney from our firm at a location in West Chester, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, or Radnor.
We are proud to serve those seeking to become parents throughout the Philadelphia area and Southeastern Pennsylvania area, including Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County and Lancaster County.
The way that people adopt often depends on their specific circumstances, their individual needs and their individual goals.
Many people adopt because they have chosen to become parents, and cannot biologically become parents or choose not to have children biologically. This can include single people, same-sex couples, couples who have reproductive challenges and couples choosing to have children at a later stage in their lives. For these people seeking to become parents through adoption, there are several routes. They can seek to adopt a child through an agency, either from this country or from around the world. They can also find people with children or people expecting a child through advertisements.
Agencies, however, can be difficult to deal with and, unfortunately, some even take advantage of those hoping to become parents. With parents seeking adoptive parents or responding to ads from people looking to adopt, there are many legal pitfalls. An experienced adoption attorney in Chester County can help you navigate these complex circumstances.
Other parents in similar situations may choose surrogacy or sperm or egg donors. These procedures are expensive and often very legally complicated. They require careful attention to detail and firm, well-crafted agreements between all involved parties. As a potential parent, you should be know all of the legal ramifications of your particular situation, whether your friend is your surrogate or if you are accepting sperm from an anonymous donor.
Often times, though, adoption arises as an issue not when people choose to have a child, but when a child happens to come in people's lives. In many circumstances, people are seeking to adopt a particular child in their lives. It could be a grandparent adopting a grandchild after her parents die. It could be a sister adopting a niece because the niece's parents have abandoned her. It could be a foster parent who builds a special connection with one of his or her kids. Many times, it's a step-parent who wants to legally become the parent to his or her spouse's children. In such a case the attorneys with the Ciccarelli Law Offices can help you develop a strong petition.
In many circumstances, the child you are seeking to adopt already has one or more parents with legal rights to the child. Sometimes, that's a welcome fact: If you are in a relationship or marriage with a person with a child, you may seek to adopt the child so you will have the legal rights of a parent. Step-parents may need to go through this process, but so must people who are not married or are in marriages that are not presently recognized by the Commonwealth.
However, in other circumstances, the parental rights of the parents of the child may need to be terminated. If the parent's rights are not terminated, that parent still has a legal right to make decisions on behalf of the child. In many circumstances, the parent may wish to relinquish his or her rights voluntarily. After the child has stayed in your exclusive care for three days, the parent may go to the court and request to relinquish rights forever. The court will set a date at least 10 days later, and hold a hearing on the matter. If the father of the child is properly notified and does not object, then the court will terminate the rights of both parents at once.
If you have acted as a parent to a child, for a relative or someone else, and seek to adopt the child and the parent does not consent, then you may have the more difficult path of seeking involuntary termination of the parents' rights. In most circumstances, the present parent must have refused or failed to perform parental duties for six months leading up to the filing of the petition. Your West Chester family lawyer can help you prove that the parent has not lived up to his or her responsibilities.
Once the parent's rights are terminated, he or she will have no standing to seek any kind of custody. If, as the child's new parent, you decide to allow the former parent to visit or communicate with the child, though, you may do so, under circumstances you control.
Let our team of experienced family law attorneys helps you become a legally recognized parent. We represent parents and parents-to-be throughout Coatesville, West Chester, Phoenixville, Berwyn, Willow Street, Lancaster, Ephrata, Newtown Square, Glen Mills, Media, Swarthmore, Radnor, Greater Philadelphia, and surrounding areas. Call us today at (877) 529-2422 or send an online message to set up a free consultation.