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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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Contested Adoptions: How It Happens And How To Protect Your Rights

Adopting a child is a wonderful way for parents to share their love with children deserving of a loving, caring home. Whether parents wish to adopt because they have room in their hearts and homes for another child or they are unable to have biological children of their own, adoption benefits the needs of both parties.

However, what should be a wonderful moment in both parties’ lives can turn complicated when biological parents contest adoptions and assert their parental rights. In these cases, adoptive parents should retain adoption attorneys with real experience handling these types of situations.

What is a contested adoption?

Contested adoptions occur when one parent consents to an adoption of his or her biological parent and the other steps in to block the transfer of the child’s custody. These types of cases may typically occur in infant adoptions where new mothers with unplanned pregnancies wish to rescind their parental rights and have the child placed in the custody of either the state or with another family.

Contested adoptions may happen for many reasons: fathers may be unaware the birth mother was pregnant, either parent may have been coerced into signing away their rights, or indigent parents may wish to reenter their child’s life. In any situation, these cases can be complex and should be headed by an experienced family attorney.

Virginia law on contested adoptions

Under Virginia parental custody law, parents must consent to rescinding their parental rights. However, in 2012 Virginia passed a law amending its laws on parental rights. The 2012 revision required parents contesting an adoption be given notice of the event and have the right to be heard.

Virginia law does have exceptions to requiring birth parent consent to adoption. This may include instances such when the birth parent, by choice, had no contact or visitation with the child for six months before the petition for adoption was filed. Biological parents may still contest the adoption but their consent is not required.

How can I avoid a contested adoption in Virginia

While not all adoptions go off without complications, there are steps prospective parents can take to mitigate any possible issues. This includes:

  • Educating themselves about state and local adoption laws;
  • Finding an experienced adoption lawyer from the beginning to address legal issues from the start;
  • Following your attorney’s advice and adhere to state laws; and
  • Determining the position of both biological parents on the issue of the child’s adoption.

Virginia adoption attorney

If you are considering adopting a child, speaking one of the experienced and dedicated Virginia adoption attorneys of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, PC can help you understand the process and advocate for your rights. Our attorneys represent adoptive parents throughout Leesburg, Loudoun County, Fairfax County and throughout the greater Northern Virginia area.

Contact us for a consultation about your case. Our friendly and compassionate Leesburg adoption attorneys are ready to help you welcome a new child into your home and begin your lives together.

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Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!