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What You Need to Know about Adoption in Virginia

What You Need to Know about Adoption in Virginia

What You Need to Know about Adoption in Virginia
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, VA

If you are considering adopting a child, there are several routes you can take to expand your family.

The first step is to decide what type of adoption works best for you. You can opt to adopt through a public or private agency that can facilitate the entire process, from locating birth parents to terminating their parental rights.

Or you can adopt privately by making all arrangements directly with the birth parents. Typically, private adoptions include close relative, adult, and step-parent adoptions, which entail a less-complicated procedure than other types of adoptions.

Most international adoptions are handled by agencies. Domestic adoptions, on the other hand, can be either done privately or with the assistance of an agency.

In Virginia, when adopting a minor child, a prospective adopting parent must be at least 18 years old to adopt, can be married, single or divorced, and must pass a home study to be approved for adoption. A home study is the assessment of the potential adoptive parent(s), performed by a licensed adoption agency. It includes detailed background checks, child protective service clearances, medical, educational, vocational, and other checks and histories, financial checks, and recommendations from non-relatives. After performing the home study, the agency can recommend whether the potential adoptive parent(s) are suitable to adopt a child, and state the recommended type of adoption (for instance, only infants or only domestic adoptions).

The most common types of adoption include:

    • Open vs. Closed Adoptions

In an open adoption, the biological parents and adoptive parents are open to sharing personal information and can stay in contact with each other throughout the child’s life if they choose. In a closed adoption, biological parents and adoptive parents do not have access to each other’s private information, and records may be sealed. There is no interaction between the two families.

    • Relative and Stepparent Adoption

Relative adoption and stepparent adoption refer to placement of a child in the permanent care of a relatives or stepparent.

    • Infant, Older, or Multiple Child Adoption

Minor children can be adopted at any age; however, there is a greater need for parents willing to adopt older children and sibling groups.
An adult child (age 18 or older) can also be adopted, by giving his or her own Consent; however, when the adult child is being adopted by a non-relative, some States (including Virginia) have a minimum age difference that must exist between the non-relative adopting parent and the adult child consenting to be adopted. In Virginia, that requirement is currently 15 years, meaning the non-relative adoptive parent must be at least 15 years older than the adult seeking to be adopted. A home study is typically not required for an adult child being adopted by giving his or her consent to that adoption.

    • Foster Care Adoption

Children placed in foster care are sometimes adopted by their foster family or through the foster care system, though this is a drawn-out legal process that can require the termination of the natural parents’ parental rights through multiple court-proceedings. Foster care adoptions can be completed through the Department of Social Services in conjunction with such court-proceedings.

    • Special Needs Adoption

In Virginia, many special needs children are available for adoption, and Federal and State programs exist to financially help adoptive parents.

    • International Adoption

Children under age 18 who are adopted from a Hague Convention country, and who enter the U.S. with an IH-3 visa may automatically receive U.S. citizenship. Those adopted from non-convention countries must qualify as orphans. Parents finalizing adoptions abroad must apply to the USCIS for an IR-3 visa for their child.

Do I Need an Adoption Attorney?
In Virginia, most adoptions are completed through an adoption agency or adoption attorney. You do, however, want to consult your family law attorney at the time when you are considering adoption. Your attorney can fill you in on your legal responsibilities, as well as provide helpful information to guide you through the process of adoption through completion. There are also important estate planning considerations to adoption, both for the parent giving up his or her rights if consenting to the adoption of a child, and the adopting parent who might also have natural children who then share any inheritance with their adopted sibling(s).

Contact Your Family Law Attorney
As you can see, there are many consideration and complications involved in adoption. Before you embark on this often overwhelming yet ultimately rewarding journey, consult with an attorney knowledgeable about Virginia’s laws on adoption, like attorneys Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi at the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor P.L.L.C. This way, you can receive all the necessary legal advice and support you need, and turn your focus to welcoming a child into your life.

You May Be Liable For Your Minor Child’s Actions

You May Be Liable For Your Minor Child’s Actions

You May Be Liable For Your Minor Child’s Actions
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, VA

Children get into trouble; it’s a given part of their growing-up process. However, when their actions cause damage to someone else’s person or property, many parents may not realize that they too could be liable for their child’s actions.

The courts decided long ago that it was unfair for someone to bear the financial burden or medical expenses resulting from another person’s wrongdoing. In fact, the first state law of this type was enacted in Hawaii in 1846. The reasoning behind this legislation was that parents have a legal responsibility to supervise their minor children, and if the minor child causes property damage due to negligent, malicious or willful actions, the parents can be held liable.

A child may willfully disregard a parent’s direction, or the mischief may occur because of improper supervision, and the damage can be as simple as a baseball going through a neighbor’s window or spray-painted graffiti, or as complicated as a computer hacking issue. Far too frequently, you read in the news that a child finds a handgun and accidentally shoots another child, or that a minor child takes a car and causes an accident.

Parental liability extends to both criminal and civil liability. Parents may be legally forced to compensate an injured party or repair damage done by a child’s actions. Parents may also be subject to lawsuits or criminal sanctions in some cases. Parental liability ends when the child becomes of majority age of 18, or if the child is legally emancipated by statute and deemed no longer under a parent’s supervision or responsibility.

Non-Criminal Liability for a Minor
Non-criminal liability, also known as vicarious liability, extends to actions that might include vandalism, defacement, or property destroyed in a hate crime. Parents are also liable for negligent actions when they know they must supervise the child and fail to do so, known as negligent supervision. Not only parents, but grandparents, guardians, and anyone having custody of the child can be liable.

Use of the family car also carries liability. The Family Car Doctrine holds the owner of that car liable for any damage caused by the driver of that car, if the owner knew of and consented to the family member’s use of the car, even if the minor child is not listed on the auto insurance policy. The uninsured motorist provision would not apply if the minor child is living in the insured’s household.

Criminal Liability for a Minor
Some states hold parents criminally liable when children gain access to firearms, or if parents know that their child is in possession of a firearm and do not take it away. More serious penalties are applied if the minor child causes injury or death. In Virginia, it is considered a misdemeanor to recklessly leave a loaded firearm within reach of a child so as to endanger the limb or life of any child under the age of 15; however, exceptions can be made if the gun is stored in a locked box and secured with a trigger lock. Criminal liability also extends to certain unlawful computer and internet activities, such as hacking, cell-phone and video cameras, and viewing (or sharing – such as “sexting”) pornography or other inappropriate photos.

Delinquent youth also fall under the area of parental liability. In Virginia and nearby North Carolina, parents are required to reimburse the State for costs associated with the detention, care, support or treatment of their child while under state agency supervision.

Children under the age of 18 are typically processed through the juvenile justice system, and not the adult criminal justice system, and are subject to laws designed for juvenile offenders. In some cases, the child may need a lawyer to represent them. But since they cannot contract with an attorney on their own, parents need to be involved.

Contact Your Family Law Attorney
As family law attorneys in Northern Virginia, The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor P.L.L.C. can assist parents in addressing issues of parental liability or their child for acts of mischief leading to civil or criminal liability involving a minor child. Whether you need expert advice, or to engage the services of an attorney, call attorneys Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi today to get an experienced advocate on your side.

Domestic Violence Should Not Be Kept Quiet

Domestic Violence Should Not Be Kept Quiet <br>NOVA Estate Lawyers - Leesburg

Domestic Violence Should Not Be Kept Quiet
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg

Although we all want our happy ending, domestic violence happens. It can begin with verbal abuse such as shouting or name calling, then escalate over time to pushing, hitting, and sometimes even death. Within the Cycle of Abuse, your abuser apologizes for his or her actions, begging your forgiveness and promising never to do it again. But then it happens again. And again. The same cycle.

Often the violence escalates. The abuser tells the victim it is all their fault, or that no one will believe them if they tell others. They create fear in their victim that discourages the victim from leaving.

This pattern, or cycle, of domestic violence is not indicative of a healthy relationship. Nor should it be accepted. Your safety, and the safety of your children, is at risk.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is defined as a willful and systematic pattern of control of one intimate partner over another that can include physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse. It also includes willful intimidation, physical or sexual assault and battery, and other abuse behavior.

Because it is such a difficult issue, domestic violence law was developed to punish those who cause physical or emotional harm to those with whom they share a close relationship. The most notable Federal legislation is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA); however, most domestic violence offenses are prosecuted under state law. Although they vary from state to state, convictions for domestic violence require specific standards for the defendant’s conduct and relationship to the victim in reference to direct and indirect contact.

Domestic Violence Presents Shocking Statistics

As reported by the National Domestic Hotline:

  • On average, 24 people each minute are victims of physical violence, stalking or rape by an intimate partner.
  • Nearly 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men in the United States have experienced physical violence, stalking or rape by a partner
  • Approximately 80% of female victims were previously victimized by the same intimate partner.

And domestic violence doesn’t just happen to women. Fifteen percent of domestic violence victims are men reports the Huffington Post.

What is confusing to many is why victims stay with their abusers. There are many reasons. They may stay because they or their children have been threatened, or they may be fearful of what actions their abuser might take once they leave—whether to themselves, those who left, or other family members. Abusers can also employ psychological abuse where they call their victims names and put them down. This creates a cycle of self-doubt and worthlessness that leaves the victim unable to take action. Some victims are even convinced that they caused the abuse.

What to Do if You are a Victim of Domestic Abuse

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911 and report your abuse to the police. They can issue a short-term Emergency Protective Order on the spot. Keep records of all police reports and incidents. This will be helpful in filing future actions if necessary. If you are injured, seek medical attention, and take photographs of your injuries. This will also aid in supporting your claims.
  • Engage the support of those who care about you, whether they are family members, neighbors, friends or professionals. Tell others about the abuse privately. You do not need to go through this alone.
  • Create a safe escape plan for yourself and your children in case you must leave your home quickly. Have a destination planned or contact your local domestic violence shelter for safe and anonymous harbor. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or Doorways’ 24-hour confidential domestic and sexual violence hotline at 703-237-0881 locally.

Contact Your Family Law Attorney
As family law attorneys in Northern Virginia, The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor P.L.L.C. can assist clients in filing a Temporary Restraining Order or Protective Order that will force the abuser to stay away. We can also aid in creating a case against the abuser and defending our clients in court for child custody and support issues, property settlements, and divorce proceedings. Call attorneys Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi today to get an experienced advocate on your side.

The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C.
Professional Legal Services or Legal Representation
(703) 669-6700

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  • High quality service with both personal and a professional touch. I would highly recommend their services, they helped prepare my estate in the event of my demise. They also prepared the necessary documents to complete my wife's estate after her passing, both with outstanding results. - Jim D.
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