In the Commonwealth of Virginia, adoptions are very complicated. Typically, when family law cases are heard before a court, a “best interest of the child” standard is usually adopted as the golden standard used to adjudicate custody/visitation matters. The complication occurs because the standard used in custody/visitation hearings are not the same standards that are used in determining parental rights when it comes to adoptions. In face, adoptions are handled entirely by a separate and distinct code section that sets forth a different standard in determining parental rights. Additionally, unlike custody/visitation Orders that are often subject to modifications, adoption hearings are more difficult to address post-judgment.
Short of taking away one’s liberties in a criminal trial, many judges will agree that contested adoption proceedings are a close 1(B) when it comes to precedents on the courts docket. The reason for this is that a contested adoption proceeding is essentially a termination of parental rights hearing. If one were to lose the hearing, that individual loses all rights with respect to his/her child. It is vital to consult an attorney with experience in dealing with adoption proceedings to help assist with the process.