Adoption Children Family Law

The Adoption Process: Will Your DUI Conviction Affect The Outcome?

Lourdie Adoption Ceremony August 11, 20104

A DUI conviction can have repercussions that go beyond the stigma of having a criminal record. For instance, a drunk driving charge can affect whether a person can continue on with school, get employment, make purchases that require loans like real estate and vehicles, and even rent an apartment. Another thing that a DUI can affect is the ability to adopt a child since quite a few investigating agencies use DUI convictions against parties desiring to adopt. Below are some steps that individuals may take in order to help their cause with adoption authorities.

First – Hire a DUI lawyer

If you are considering adopting a child and you have a DUI conviction, a DUI attorney can assist you with several key steps that may make you a more desirable candidate for adopting. Katz & Phillips, a law firm in Tampa, offers this about defense against DUIs, “…you really might have been perfectly fine to drive, but something went wrong during the arrest process to convince the authorities otherwise.” A critical defense such as this could be the key to getting a DUI conviction expunged from your criminal record. Your lawyer can assist with the following steps:

1. Gather court and Department of Motor Vehicles records to review exactly what anyone who is performing a basic background check will see.

2. Ask a DUI attorney if an appeal is possible on a conviction. While this may not entirely clear a record, it could still be beneficial.

3. Consider having a DUI conviction expunged from the criminal record. While it is no guarantee, this process can help other things besides adoptions, so it is worth the time and effort. Contrary to popular belief, DUI convictions do not automatically clear from a criminal record once seven years have passed. Unless it is expunged, the conviction will appear on most any criminal background check. However, keep in mind that felony DUI convictions are rarely expunged. Also, some states disallow expunging misdemeanors as well.

Ensure that the court record as well as the DMV record is cleared. Otherwise, there is a risk that it will still show up in a background check. Also, while the conviction may not appear on a background check, it may surface during the course of a more thorough investigation. Because adoption agencies operate under more stringent guidelines, they may have access to this information in the same way that a police department or the FBI would. This is because once a DUI is on a record, law enforcement can become aware of it even after expungement when they are checking for prior arrests and convictions.

4. Have the court record examined thoroughly as well as the DMV record to ensure that the conviction was actually expunged.

5. Arrange to complete a homestudy program with regard to the DUI. This will help convince an adoption agency that responsibility was taken for the situation to increase the possibility for a successful adoption.

6. Consult with an adoption lawyer and explain the entire situation so that he or she may recommend how best to proceed.

7. Try speaking with several adoption agencies about the situation. While some agencies require several years after a DUI before they will consider an application, others may have different guidelines to deal with the situation.

8. Consider Disclosing DUI Information because, in the end, if a DUI arrest is not disclosed and is later discovered, an adoption agency may have the right to deny the application automatically. However, if it is explained that the matter was expunged from the record, there could be a possibility that the agency will consider the adoption application.

Both DUI convictions and adoption are complex processes. Therefore, regardless of which avenue is pursued, it is best to first clear the DMV and court records as well as possible with the help of a DUI lawyer. Then concentrate on the adoption process with an expert family lawyer guiding you through the process.

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Adoption Children

Things You Need to Know About Adopting a Child from Abroad

AdoptionThe process of adopting a child can be simultaneously complicated, intense, rewarding, exciting and even frightening at times. Regardless of the particular circumstances surrounding your individual adoption, there are a few key aspects of the process that, when kept in mind throughout, can help you and your family avoid complex legal and emotional issues in the near future.

Government Resources for Prospective Parents

On the official website of the United States Department of Homeland Security, prospective adoptive parents can gain quick and easy access to free, downloadable forms that are necessary in the establishment of immigration status for the child. This step is mandatory and should be carefully considered before an adoption agency is contacted.

Your choice of agency is also a very important aspect of the adoption process. If you happen to know someone who has experienced an overseas adoption firsthand, ask for information about the organization they used. Online reviews and testimonials from previous parents can help you determine which agency best fits your personality, values and lifestyle. For added reassurance, contact the Better Business Bureau and request information on accredited adoption agencies that process international adoptions.

Determining Eligibility to Adopt Internationally

Your eligibility status is one of the most critical components of the entire process. Before you can adopt a child from another country, you must be approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS. The information that will be requested of you in order to determine eligibility will be evaluated by a social worker or state official, depending on your state’s individual laws. References from professional and personal contacts, fingerprint checks and verification of health insurance are typically included in these home studies, as are verification of employment, sufficient income and proof of a healthy, safe environment in which the child will reside.

If your eligibility application is approved, it will be forwarded to either the United States Embassy or the government organization in charge of adoption procedures in the country from which you plan to adopt your child.

It is important to remember that, depending on the type of adoption and the country involved, the process can be incredibly time-consuming. Many individuals and couples who wish to adopt internationally find that a number of very long months and, in some cases, years pass between the time that the first pieces of paperwork are filed and the adopted child is finally scheduled to come home.

Preparation for Parenthood

During the period of time that passes between application, approval and international travel to retrieve the adopted child, adopting parents must complete at least ten hours of pre-adoption training, as according to The Hague Adoption Convention of 1993. The Convention is designed with the legal protection of the child in question, the prospective parents and the adoption agency through which the process is completed in the foreign country.

Financial Considerations

Though the joy of finally meeting the newest member of your family is an experience that you will always cherish, the lingering effects of the financial expenses involved can induce stress in even the calmest and most collected of individuals. Considering the impact of these factors before, during and after the adoption process can help make managing it far more feasible and considerably less stressful. Talk to an experienced attorney with a proven track record of success in adoption cases, set aside money for translation documents (if required) and the future costs of childcare. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of what the process entails will better equip you with the confidence and forward thinking you will need throughout the process of your child’s adoption.


Janet, Jenner & Suggs, LLC is a Family and Cerebral Palsy law firm located in Baltimore, Maryland/Columbia, South Carolina/Asheville, North Carolina.  For more information, please visit


Three Helpful Tips When Choosing an Adoption Lawyer

Adoption There is no greater joy in life than starting a family and many couples choose to do this, whether by choice or by necessity, through adoption. Going through with adoption can be long and tedious due to the complicated nature of the process, but this also acts as a way for agencies to weed out any parents who are not dedicated. The best way for prospective parents to adopt is to find a professional adoption lawyer who is familiar with the process and who can assist them every step of the way. Your choice of adoption lawyer can affect the entire outcome of the adoption, so it is important to properly vet the candidates to make sure you end up with the right one. But what should you look for in an adoption lawyer? Follow these three tips for choosing an adoption lawyer to end up with the best results.

Speak With Parents Who Have Adopted to Get Recommendations

The best way to find an adoption attorney is to speak with parents who have already successfully adopted. Check with friends and family members to see if they know anybody who has adopted and then try to be put in contact with them to talk about the process and their adoption lawyer. If you do not know anybody who has gone through this, there are always adoption support groups and meetings that you can attend to meet new people and find out the information you want.

Ask Difficult Questions to see How the Lawyer Responds

When you meet with other parents who have adopted try and get a list of questions they wish they had asked their adoption attorney and then, during the interview process, ask each of them these questions. If an attorney shies away from answering some of the more difficult questions, especially if they deal with cost, then there’s a good chance they don’t want you to know the answer. Find a lawyer who is completely honest during the interview and you’ll have an adoption lawyer that will always be completely open with you.

Choose a Lawyer Who Specializes in Adoption

This may sound like a no-brainer but you would be surprised how many parents assume that a lawyer specializes in a subject just because they are willing to represent somebody. Many lawyers dabble in different areas of the law and split their time between these focuses. When choosing an adoption lawyer you want to be sure that they spend the majority of their time on adoption law so that you can guarantee they are as knowledgeable as possible on the subject. Do a little research into the firm and the lawyer you meet with to make sure that adoption is the primary focus of their company, and doesn’t represent a small minority of their work.

The process of adopting a child can be physically and emotionally draining, but it is well worth it once it’s complete. Adoption agencies make the process difficult on purpose to make sure only the most sincere and dedicated people make it through to become parents. A great adoption lawyer can make the process that much easier while a bad adoption lawyer can send you back to square one. Following these steps will help you find an adoption lawyer that can assist you with starting your own family.

If you are adopting a child, hiring an adoption lawyer would be beneficial to you.  For more information about what an adoption lawyer can do for you, visit the website for The Law Offices of Brian M. Moskowitz, an adoption lawyer located in Boca Raton, Florida at


Family Law Update Puts Emphasis on Children’s Best Interests

A new bill of law has been announced in the Queen’s Speech at the state opening of Parliament regarding children and families. The bill will see plans implemented in order to allow parental leave to now be shared between a child’s parents, make the process for adopting international families easier and also provide a greater number of choices for children with special educational needs. Finally, it will improve the access given to children by their fathers in the wake of a divorce. Ministers are now planning to introduce more flexibility following an independent report being published in May 2011, recommending that the right to request such flexibility be extended to people with parental responsibilities to children below the age of 16. Changes to the law surrounding adoption will now prevent local authorities from delaying the process in order to find a perfect match if a suitable one is currently available. Compensation will be available to families who suffer as a result of the new procedures not being followed.

Ethnicity of the child’s prospective adopters and a child will now take second place in the majority of cases in order to speed up the process of finding a child a permanent family. Furthermore, the government plans an introduction of a number of further recommendations which are contained in a final report of the Family Justice Review published at the end of last year. These include adjustments such as a limit of six months by which care cases must be completed, making it explicit that case management decisions can only be made after the interests of the child have been taken into full consideration. It’s hope that this will focus courts on issues which are essential to deciding whether or not to implement care, and get rid of any unnecessary procedures in family court proceedings by removing the requirement for interim care and supervision orders.

To further bolster the positive improvements being made in legislation, the government will also introduce changes to ensure that a child maintains a relationship with both parents following a family separation, but only in circumstances where it is both safe and in the best interests of the child. Professionals working in the legal field have met the adjustments in law with varying opinions. Some state that the proposals do not to work in the best interests of the parents, while others say that the law could’ve taken the best interests of the child even further. Further reading on the children & families feature in the Queen’s Speech 2012 is recommended.