Choosing an adoption attorney can be a very personal and difficult decision. Making the decision to add to your family is a life-changing experience, and having the right attorney on board can help you make the process as smooth as possible. You might wonder how to go about finding the best attorney for you. Here’s what to look for in an adoption attorney:
A legal specialty in adoption and family law
An adoption proceeding is unlike any other type of legal proceeding. There are special notices that apply, special requirements for legal filings and lots of other things that you must do in order to complete the process. It’s important to have an advocate that focuses their practice exclusively on adoption and family law. An attorney who specializes in adoption law is likely to stay up to date on changes in adoption laws. They’re also likely to have experience that can help you pursue your case in the best ways possible and avoid the mistakes that can delay or derail your case.
If you have a friend of a friend who practices in another area of law, they may not have the training and experience to handle unusual or unexpected issues that may arise in an adoption case. The practice of law means constantly growing and refining practice skills. An attorney who specializes in adoption law can put their training and experience to work for you.
Experience in adoption beyond practicing law
An attorney who has experience in adoption outside the realm of practicing adoption law can bring an invaluable perspective to the proceedings. For example, if an attorney previously worked for a child placement agency, they can help you understand what the child placement agency looks for in a home study and how they help biological and adoptive parents connect. They may also have perspectives about the specific organizations that you might work with. When your attorney understands adoption proceedings from the perspective of another party involved, like the child placement agency, they can help you put your best foot forward. They can also identify any red flags to look out for.
When you meet with an adoption attorney, ask them about their background. Ask them if they have experience with adoption outside of practicing adoption law. Your attorney provides advice and guidance in addition to helping you create and file legal paperwork. Personal experience in adoption is critical to providing you sound guidance as you pursue your case.
Years of experience practicing adoption law
The right adoption attorney will have many years of experience in the field of adoption law. Experience helps your attorney choose the best possible course of action at each stage in the proceedings. In their years of practice, they’ve gotten to know the courts. They can work quickly and efficiently to help you get the results that you’re looking for.
Experience gives an attorney a certain comfort level with the legal process and the courts. When they know what to expect, they know how to bring your case in a way that advocates for your best interests. They can also help you understand the various options so that you can choose the best possible paths to meet your goals.
Experience handling many adoption cases
An attorney might tell you that they have years of experience practicing law. They might even tell you that they have experience practicing adoption law. However, it’s important to ask how many adoption cases they’ve handled in their career. Another good measure is what percent of the attorney’s caseload is devoted to adoption law. Asking for specifics about an attorney’s caseload can tell you if the attorney has the breadth of experience needed to do the best job in your case. It’s important to look for an attorney that has many adoption cases under their belt.
Knowledge of the law and things that may be problematic in your case
An adoption attorney should be knowledgeable in adoption law. They should be able to tell you the typical process of an adoption case. They should also be able to tell you the specific laws that apply to your case.
For example, if you’re pursuing an international adoption, the attorney should know what special issues and requirements apply to an international adoption. If you’re pursuing a domestic adoption from the child’s birth, they should be able to explain how pre-adoption orders work and what you can do to ensure that you have the consent of all of the parties involved. Your attorney should be able to address your general questions, and there may be unique issues that require some research. However, when you’re looking for an adoption attorney, you should look for someone who both knows the laws and knows how they apply to the specific facts present in your case.
A clear fee structure
An adoption attorney should provide a clear explanation of how they charge for their services. They should provide a fee agreement in writing, and they should answer any questions that you have about fees and payments. The right adoption attorney knows that you don’t want surprises, and they should explain in clear terms how they’re compensated for their work on your behalf.
Practicing for the right reasons
It’s important to ask your attorney why they practice adoption law. The answer to that question can help you understand if the lawyer is going to be the right counselor and advocate for you. Learning about why an attorney chooses adoption law can help you understand how they see their role as your attorney. It can also help you understand how they approach cases. Asking your attorney what motivates them in their work can help you learn about the lawyer and what they enjoy about their work.
Finding the right adoption attorney for you
When you’re looking for the right adoption attorney, look for an attorney that has a breadth of experience in the field of adoption both inside and outside of the law. Look for an attorney that has years of experience practicing adoption law. They should be comfortable with the law, and they should be able to identify the issues that might arise in your case. The right attorney is your advocate and guide as you build your family through adoption.