Adoptions In Kitsap County

General Posts

Adoptions In Kitsap County

Through the years I have done adoptions in Kitsap County for married couples, domestic partners and step-parents. Some of these were private adoptions, that is, done independently or through an agency and others were adoptions of foster children where the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) does much of the preparation otherwise done by an attorney or agency.

Private Independent Adoptions

Private adoptions are legal in Washington but it is important to have the assistance of an attorney to insure that all legal requirements are followed. In private independent adoptions the first step for the prospective adoptive parents is to get a home study. This is a report about the adoptive parents and the future home environment for the children. This report must be done by a person approved by the Court, often a licensed social worker. After the completion of a favorable home study the prospective parents may begin to search for a child to adopt. This may be done with or without an agency. There are many resources available on line for parents in search of a child to adopt. Washington law makes it illegal to “sell or purchase a minor child.” This law means that payments by the prospective adoptive parents are legally limited to medical expenses associated with the birth of a child to be adopted soon after birth, attorney fees, court costs and fees to a licensed adoption agency.

Termination of Parental Rights

Prior to the adoption of any child the parental rights of the birth parents must be terminated. This can be done by the consent of the child’s natural parents or involuntarily through a Court order terminating the rights of the father or mother. Because the law protects the rights of the natural parents it is important that you have an attorney to assist you in obtaining and filing the consents. It is not uncommon for the identity of the natural father to be uncertain or for the father to be difficult to find. The attorney can help you to satisfy the legal requirements in cases like these, in order to insure that the parental rights are terminated and the adoption can go forward.

Adopting Foster Children

Adopting Foster Childrens

Prior to an adoption of foster children there will usually have been a dependency action, in a situation where the birth parents are unable or unwilling to care for the child and may even have abandoned the child. While any adult may file a dependency petition, the cases are often brought by an attorney from the state acting on behalf of DSHS. The state will allege that the parents cannot or will not do an adequate job of caring for the child, that is, that the child will suffer harm if left with the parents. The law favors leaving children with their parents whenever it is possible to do so, but in some cases that cannot be done. If the child’s parents are unable to demonstrate they will be able to care for the child, the Court will terminate their parental rights and give legal custody to DSHS. Typically, the Court orders the child to be placed with a relative, other suitable person, or foster parent, but legal custody remains with DSHS.

In this sort of adoption, DSHS will arrange for the necessary home studies and if they are satisfied that the adoption is in the child’s best interest they will provide the required legal consent. In foster parent adoptions DSHS will compile the medical history of the child, and there may be an adoption support agreement between the adoptive parents and DSHS. The state can also provide some reimbursement to the adoptive parents for legal fees.

Adoption Attorney

The adoption process can be complicated and an experienced attorney can insure that the adoption goes smoothly.

Child Support in Kitsap County

Child Law

Child Support

For over 18 years I have handled child support cases in Kitsap County. Following is a brief summary of the basics of a child support case.

Who Pays Child Support?

Parents have a legal obligation to support their minor children and that obligation exists or continues if the parties are married, divorced, separated or were never married. In Washington parents can include natural parents, adoptive parents and domestic partners. Court ordered child support only comes into play if the parties have never lived together or when parties divorce, dissolve a domestic partnership or separate. In all divorces with minor children courts are required to order child support. Child support will be paid to the parent with whom the children reside the majority of the time.

How Is The Amount of Child Support Determined?

The amount of child support in Washington State is based on a table called the Washington State Child Support Schedule. This is a table created by the state legislature and codified into law. The table and the rules for applying it can be found at Chapter 26.19 RCW (Revised Code of Washington). The table sets the amount of child support based on the total of the net incomes of the parents and the number and ages of the children. The table gives what is called a “basic support obligation:” a total amount that is considered to be adequate to support the child or children. That basic support obligation is allocated between the parents based on each parent’s share of the combined monthly net income. For instance, if the parent ordered to pay support earns 60% of the total net income of both parents, then that parent will pay 60% of the amount shown on the table. The amounts in the table are legally “presumptive:” the courts are required to order the amount of support calculated from the table unless there is a specific circumstance justifying a “deviation.” The reasons for deviation listed in the statute are things such as debts of the paying parent, children from other relationships and the residential schedule for the children. These reasons for deviation are strictly defined in the law and a good attorney can help you to find out how or if these rules apply to your case.

Child Support income

What Is Net Income?

Since child support is based on the total net incomes of the parents it is important to have that income calculated accurately. In a case involving child support the parents are required to document their incomes, providing pay stubs, business records, W-2’s and income tax returns. These documents are required to be filed with the court and provided to the other party or their lawyer. These financial source documents are filed in a sealed file that is not accessible to the public. The law defines exactly how net income is calculated, specifying the things that can be deducted from gross income. The issue of this net income calculation is central to many child support disputes and an attorney can insure that the calculation is done correctly and in a way that protects your interests and those of your children.