Foster Parent Adoptions

Foster parent adoption can be a complex process that requires following strict administrative and legal processes while still giving your child the best care possible. We can help you make a way through the system and adopt your child as quickly as possible. Call Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today at (559) 222-4891 for help with your case.


How Is Foster Children Adoption Different Than Traditional Adoption?


Adopting a foster child is handled by a state adoption agency instead of a private organization, as many traditional adoptions are processed. It is usually cheaper to adopt a foster child, and there may be financial help for you before, during, and after a foster child adoption.


Foster parents are often given preference when finding adoptive parents for a child. This provides stability in a child’s life.


Legal Responsibility for a Foster Child


The state child welfare agency is legally responsible for a foster child. They are in control of making decisions about their education, medical care, and more.


However, in the process of foster parent adoption, that legal responsibility would transfer to the parents. All parental rights would be awarded to the parents. Once the adoption is final, the adoptive parents would have all the same rights as biological parents.


Foster Parent Adoption Process


The foster parent adoption process is initiated when you are licensed as a foster parent and a child is placed in your care. If you are a family member, this step may not be necessary.


The child services agency then evaluates the child’s dependency case. If the child is deemed dependent upon the state, then they may become legally free for adoption. This requires parental rights to be terminated from their biological parents.


If you want to adopt the child, you will be required to undergo a thorough investigation from the child services agency, which will include background checks and home visits. If you have been a foster parent for a long amount of time, this process may not take very long.


You will have to attend court hearings throughout the process that will review your situation. The last one will be a finalization hearing to establish yourself as an adoptive parent to your child.


Do I Need an Adoption Attorney?


You should hire an adoption attorney to make sure the process goes smoothly. You will have to deal with state agencies, such as child services, and court processes. The government may ask you to submit to background checks that cause issues to arise and you will need an attorney to help you refocus on what is important – adopting your child.


Your attorney can answer questions from government agencies and attend court hearings on your behalf. You may have to deal with those entities as well, but overall the process will be much less stressful with an attorney by your side.


Call Law Offices of Rick D. Banks Today


We have managed foster parent adoption for many people throughout the years, and we can help you too. Call us at (559) 222-4891 for more information.

Adoption By a Family Member

Adopting a family member is common when birth parents are not able to care for their children or when a step parent steps up to take on a legal parental role. In fact, the court will often seek out family members to serve as foster and adoptive parents as an alternative to putting children into the home of someone they do not know.


If you need legal advice regarding an adoption, you should work with an attorney who is familiar with the court process. Call Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today at (559) 222-4891.


Who May Adopt a Family Member?


Family member adoptions are often called “kinship adoption.” They occur when a child is adopted by someone with a biological relationship to them, such as grandparents, siblings, or aunts and uncles.


Step parents may also adopt children in certain situations where one or both biological parents are no longer able to care for the children.


Some jurisdictions also recognize “fictive kin” relationships for adoptive purposes. This includes family friends and other people with a close, non-biological relationship to the family.


Family Adoptions are Preferred


The state is often required to give family members preference over non-family members in adoption cases. In fact, when biological parents are no longer able to care for children, the state will look to families for caregivers first.


Kinship Adoption Process


The process of adopting a family member is similar to that of adopting a child who is not a family member. The state or adoption agency will do a home study, background checks on all household members, and other screening processes to ensure the child is going to a safe home.


Consent is often sought from biological parents for kinship adoption as well as step parent adoption, as their parental rights will be terminated if the adoption is completed.


Step Parent Adoption


The most common type of family member adoption is step parent adoption. This typically requires fewer screening processes and one of the biological parents is usually still in the picture.


In the case of step parent adoption, one parent may no longer be in the life of the child, leading to termination of their parental rights for abandonment. The step parent may step in and assume those parental rights.


Conditions for termination of parental rights are strict, and the child may be required to give consent if they are over a certain age.


Grandparent Adoption


Grandparent adoption is different from grandparent guardianship or custody. In guardianship and custody situations, the parents retain parental rights. However, with grandparent adoption, the parental rights are terminated and transferred to the grandparents.


Are Family Adoptions Open or Closed?


Most family adoptions are open because the parents are known within the family and still have some contact with the child. However, in some situations, family adoptions may be closed, especially if contact with the parents would be detrimental to the child.


Contact a Family Adoption Attorney Today


Adopting a family member can be a daunting process. You may have to deal with a plethora of paperwork and the legal process. Let us handle it for you. Call Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today at (559) 222-4891.



What Happens If One Parent Is Withholding a Child From Another Parent?

Withholding a Child From Another ParentUnfortunately, sometimes divorced spouses can’t seem to co-parent successfully. Ignoring the existing parenting plan, a custodial parent may intentionally prevent the non-custodial parent from seeing their child for months, or even sometimes years. So what happens if one parent is withholding a child from another parent? While many non-custodial parents may simply accept this type of behavior, you do have other options to fix this situation.

When the Parent Withholds Child Visitation Occasionally

When a custodial parent occasionally withholds child visitation and fails to follow the visitation schedule, then that missing visitation time can be made up. You and your ex-spouse will need to schedule dates to make that time up. If you’re the non-custodial parent, make sure to keep detailed records. Record the times and dates your spouse withholds child visitation from you. We recommend keeping a calendar, electronic document, or written journal of those specific times.

If your spouse refuses to schedule these make-up dates, then you have other options. However, remember that retaliating by withholding child support is never a good idea. The child support you pay is not directly related to your right of visitation. By law, your child is entitled to the money you pay for child support. If you retaliate by withholding those support payments, you’re violating a court order, which opens you up to serious penalties. A judge can hold you in contempt of court and impose substantial monetary fines or even jail time. No matter how frustrated you may be, never under any circumstances withhold your court order child support payments.

Another retaliation method that may tempt you is self-help, otherwise known as kidnapping. You as the custodial parent cannot “take” your child whenever you want. If you do so, your spouse, the custodial parent, can call the police and have you arrested for kidnapping. The court will see this arrest in an unfavorable light. Self-help will not help your case.

Instead, if your spouse withholds visitation and refuses to reschedule that time, then seek the help of an attorney. Most often, simply having your attorney explain your willingness to go to court to enforce your visitation rights is enough to scare your spouse into complying with the visitation schedule.

When the Parent Withholds Child Visitation Consistently

If your spouse, as the custodial parent, consistently withholds your right to visitation, there are several things you can do.

The first thing you can do is to contact the police in orders to enforce your right to visitation. However, most police departments will do whatever they can to avoid domestic disputes. Furthermore, seeking help from law enforcement can lead to more hostility between you and your spouse. This will also create unhappy memories for your child.

Your next step as a non-custodial parent is to file a petition in court. In hindsight this is your best option for enforcing your right to visitation. While you can file this petition by yourself, we advise seeking the help of a seasoned family law attorney. With the help of your attorney, your petition will contain all of the necessary information.

Many states take withholding child visitation very seriously. In fact, these states allow a change in custody if the custodial parent consistently withholds visitation. By seeking the help of the court, if your spouse consistently shows they’re unfit to hold custody, the court can transfer custody to you.

Contact a Family Law Attorney to Learn More About What Happens If One Parent Is Withholding a Child From Another Parent

Custody is a deeply emotionally-charged topic. If your spouse interferes with your right to visitation and shows little signs of complying, your best solution is to a hire an experienced family law attorney. Call the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

Child Support Attorney: How to Obtain a Child Support Order

child support attorneyIf you are currently in the process of obtaining an order for support in the State of California, an experienced Fresno child support attorney may be able to help.

Under California law, a parent may be entitled to collect child support if he or she has been granted sole physical custody of the child or children. In most cases, the custodial parent may be entitled to receive child support until such time as the child reaches the age of 18. If the child suffers from a disability, that time period may be extended out even further.

It is important to note that if the parents cannot reach an agreement on child support, a California court will decide the issue of child support pursuant to the California Child Support Guidelines. The experienced child support attorneys at Rick Banks Law can assist you with drafting a workable child support agreement and can help with streamlining the overall process.

Requesting Child Support in California

Requesting child support in California typically requires that you file a petition for support with the California court where your family law case is pending. Each parent will be required to furnish information about their income levels and tax liabilities in order for the court to issue a support order that is fair to both parties.

When a court decides child support based upon the Guidelines, it will usually consider the number of children involved, each parent’s net income, the amount of time each parent spends with the children, each parent’s tax liability, and any special health considerations regarding the minor children.

Child Support Modifications

Once a California court enters a child support order, that order may be modified based upon a showing of a material change in circumstances. Material changes in circumstance may consist of one or more of the following:

  • Loss of a job
  • Pay cut or other income reduction
  • Ex-spouse’s increase in income or salary
  • Remarriage of an ex-spouse
  • Child’s adverse medical condition

Child support orders are subject to modification as many times as necessary while the custodial parent is receiving the support – usually until the child reaches the age of 18 or becomes independent. When a child joins the military or requires special care or disability care, that time period may be extended beyond a child’s eighteenth birthday.

Child Support Enforcement

When a non-custodial parent fails to pay or stops paying child support, the custodial parent can seek legal redress through the California court system. A child support order may be enforced by garnishing the other parent’s wages, seizing the other parent’s personal property or bank accounts, placing a lien on the other parent’s real estate, and/or obtaining the other parent’s tax income refunds.

A non-custodial parent who fails to pay child support may also be subject to civil penalties, loss of professional license, loss of driver’s license, and even jail time. Our experienced Fresno child support lawyers can help you petition the Court to enforce a child support order.

Contact a Fresno Child Support Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

As the custodial parent, you have a right to receive child support from your ex-spouse for the care and upkeep of your minor children. An attorney may be able to assist you with obtaining an enforceable California child support order. Call the experienced child support attorneys at Rick Banks Law at 559-222-4891.


How Does the Fresno Divorce Process Work?

The Fresno divorce process can be daunting when a divorcing spouse first encounters it.  Most people have never been in litigation and may be dealing with the court process for the first time with their contested divorce proceeding.

Litigation refers to the period of time between the filing of the initial divorce and a final hearing or trial.
Discovery is the information-gathering portion of litigation in which the parties obtain information from the other party or third parties about their spouse’s assets, other financial matters, and issues of custody.  Any necessary motions or legal procedures are also part of the litigation process.  Litigation is usually initiated when there is a contested issue in your divorce case such as the amount of spousal support, hidden assets or income, or child custody.  The purpose of the discovery and litigation process is to gather enough information and evidence to give a full picture of the issues in your case and to prepare your case for hearing or trial.

Discovery can be informal or formal.   An example of informal discovery would be when you or your attorney simply asks the opposing party for the information on the other party’s finances or the value of an asset.  Some examples of formal discovery are depositions, document requests, and subpoenas.

Here are the major components of discovery and litigation that you can expect to encounter in a contested family law case. Each of them are part of the formal court process.

The deposition.  A deposition is a legal procedure in which one of the parties to the family law case or a third party gives sworn oral testimony.  An attorney for either party asks the deponent questions about the family law case. That deponent’s testimony is put into written form and can be used as evidence at any hearing or trial.

Written discovery.  Written discovery refers to the process where one party requests information, facts, and documents from the other.  That is, when one party sends a formal written request to the other party for those facts and documents.  Written discovery is usually comes in the form of document requests, interrogatories, and requests for designation of experts, if necessary.  An example of written discovery would be when the opposing party asks for documents in your possession.  When you receive a discovery request, you usually have thirty days to respond under oath to each question or request to the best of your ability.

The subpoena.  A subpoena is a request that a party or third party either attend a hearing, or produce documents on a specific date.  For example, if you wanted to obtain information from a financial institution or a real estate company, it would be appropriate to send a subpoena for all bank statements for a specified period of time or documents pertaining to a real estate transaction.  You would have the option of having the subpoenaed party produce the documents before a hearing or trial so that you can review them.  Subpoenas are also used to have a witness or party appear at hearing or trial.  Upon receipt of a subpoena, the subpoena recipient has the right to object to the subpoena.  The subpoena recipient usually has a specified period of time to respond to a subpoena or must otherwise appear.  It is always best to abide by the terms of a subpoena unless there is a legal reason not to or you are excused.   Subpoenas carry with them the power of the court to enforce that subpoena if a person fails to abide by the subpoena.

Designation of experts.  It is often the case in contested family law proceedings that the court or a party will require the assistance of an expert on a particular issue. That is a person who is a recognized expert in their field, such as real estate or property valuations, and who can give testimony or evidence that the average person cannot as to a particular issue in your case.  You have the right to hire an expert and obtain an expert’s report or other evidence that will be helpful in proving the issues in your case.   If you do hire an expert, you would be required to notify the opposing party well ahead of the hearing or trial date.

What if the opposing party does not cooperate?  There are instances in family law litigation in which a party or a third party does not cooperate with the discovery or litigation processes.  An example would be if you send a document request to your spouse and they refuse to produce documents or tell you their location.  Another example would be if you subpoena a financial institution to produce documents and they do not respond.  The litigation process allows you to file a motion with the court to enforce your request.  If you prevail or win, the non-cooperating party will be ordered to comply with your discovery request. You can also request attorney’s fees for the time and expense incurred in enforcing your discovery request.  If the non-cooperating party still does not cooperate, the court can prevent the opposing party from presenting specific evidence at hearing or trial.  That is, if you cannot present evidence on an issue at hearing because of the fault of another, the opposing party would not be allowed to present that evidence at hearing.