What is adoption in a legal sense?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 19, 2018

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Adoption is the process through which the natural parents’ rights and obligations toward their children) are terminated, and the adoptive parents assume these rights and obligations. Once a child has been adopted, the natural or birth parents are no longer responsible for their child; the obligations that they have toward their child, likewise, cease to exist.

It is as if the natural or birth parents become like any other third party with respect to the child. The adoptive parents become responsible for the child and all the obligations and rights between a parent and child are established between them.

Adoption is a process that is established by statutory law, and is treated in accordance with the laws established by the state in which the parent and child reside. The legal procedure by which a formal legal adoption occurs differs from state to state. An attorney will help you to determine the particular procedures of the state in which you live.

The primary obligation flowing from a parent to a minor child is to be responsible for his/her health, education and welfare. When a parent adopts a minor child, the parent must then provide for the needs of the child.

The primary right that a child obtains from a parent is the right of inheritance of the estate. Although this right of inheritance may be altered by a will or trust (see the FreeAdvice Estate Planning section for more), or other disposition of property, in the event that a parent dies without a Will, the parent’s children are entitled to the estate (all the property that the parent owned as of the date of death). Generally, an adopted child has no rights to the estate of his or her biological parents.

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