Adoption And Paternity Action Attorney

Helping families initiate and complete adoptions is one of the pleasant aspects of family law that we handle at Brandau & Waltz Law Offices, LLP. In many cases, we assist stepparents who wish to formalize their relationships and responsibilities to their spouse's children. While stepparent adoptions are the most common, we can also assist clients who wish to learn more about independent and international adoptions.

Understanding Adoption Processes And Procedures

As a firm assisting clients in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, we routinely remind clients that there are numerous differences in state laws, terminology and processes. However, no matter where you reside in our region, we can help you navigate the legal landscape with confidence.

Many stepparent adoptions follow a four-step process:

  • Termination of the biological parent's parental rights
  • Petitioning the court for the adoption
  • Undergoing background checks and observations by court-appointed personnel
  • A final hearing to affirm and finalize all the paperwork

Terminating The Rights Of The Biological Parent

One of the most difficult aspects of completing an adoption is attaining consent from a biological parent to terminate his or her parental rights. The circumstances of each case can vary greatly, but in some instances, a biological parent who has been absent from the child's life may suddenly have a change of heart and insist on retaining his or her rights to the child. These sudden shifts during an adoption can slow the process and create problems for the adopting parents. As your lawyer, Ann I. Brandau can help navigate through this complex matter.

There are two ways of terminating the rights of a biological parent: voluntarily or involuntarily.

  • Voluntary termination: A biological parent will consent to the adoption by completing a series of legal documents or in some cases by appearing before the court and giving consent.
  • Involuntary termination: If there is evidence that the biological parent abandoned or put the child at risk, the court may determine that the best interests of the child would be best served by another caregiver. However, there is often a strong presumption that children should be raised by their biological parents, and attaining an involuntary termination can be difficult. This process may involve a trial to determine that a parent is unfit.

Paternity Actions

In cases where a child is born to unwed parents, the mother has sole authority over the child until the father is granted custodial rights by the courts. For fathers who wish to take an active role in the upbringing of their children, it's important to pursue their fathers' rights early in their children's lives.

Paternity matters we often help clients resolve include:

  • Adjudication of paternity: In some cases, a man may acknowledge being the father of a child. In others, genetic testing may be necessary to resolve a paternity dispute.
  • Custody, placement or parenting time: There are numerous arrangements and schedules to be determined. In some cases, parents may share joint custody or one parent may have sole custody. It is also essential to understand the differences between physical custody (daily decision-making regarding the child) and legal custody (significant decisions that include education and health care).
  • Child support: Parents have legal obligations to their children. Even a father who does not have any established rights to his child may be required to make financial contributions to support his child. We can help you understand all the processes and expenses associated with making or receiving child support payments.

As mentioned above, we are family law attorneys representing clients in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. Regardless of which state you live in, we can help you understand the laws and pursue the outcome that best serves your needs.

Contact Us

Whether you are a stepparent considering adopting the children already in your care or an unwed father who wishes to establish your parental rights, we at Brandau & Waltz Law Offices, LLP, want to help. Contact our La Crosse law office to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. Call 608-784-2050 or reach us via email.