Nevada adoption laws mandate that prospective parents meet several eligibility requirements, including:
- Being at least 21 (and at least 10 years older than the child);
- Having the financial ability to provide for a child; and
- Passing a “home study” of their fitness to care for a child
In addition, a child’s biological parents typically must consent to the adoption unless their rights have been terminated.
In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada family law attorneys discuss how adoption works in Nevada
- 1. Who can adopt
- 2. Age restrictions
- 3. Parental consent
- 4. Termination of parental rights
- 5. How to adopt
1. Who can adopt a child in Nevada
Married couples or single adults in Nevada may petition the court for permission to adopt a minor child. In the case of married couples, both spouses must first consent to the adoption before the petition may be granted.1
Prospective adoptive parents must first pass a “home study” before they can be granted a child. This is where a social worker reviews the prospective adoptive parents and determines whether they are suitable to be parents.
See our related article about the Nevada foster care system.
2. Age restrictions for adoptive parents and children in Nevada
Nevada adoption law allows minor children to be adopted by an adult aged 21 or older. In addition, the adult adopting the children must also be at least 10 years older than the children he/she is adopting.
The child’s consent to the adoption is required if the child is over the age of 14.2
3. Required consent by a child’s biological or legal parents
Typically, the child’s biological or legal parents must consent to the specific adoption before it may take place. If both of the child’s parents are alive, then the consent of both parents is required except in limited circumstances.
However, consent from children’s parents is not necessary in cases where the court has terminated the parents’ parental rights.3
See our related article about the emancipation of a child in Nevada.
4. How parental rights are terminated by a Nevada court
A judge decides whether terminating a parent’s parental rights will serve the “best interests” of the child. Termination of parental rights may be appropriate in the following four circumstances:
- The biological parents were otherwise unfit to parent the minor;
- The minor would be at risk of serious physical, mental, or emotional injury if the child remained in the home of the biological parents;
- The biological parents neglected the minor; or
- The biological parents abandoned the minor
Nevada law defines an “unfit parent” is a parent who fails to provide proper care, guidance, and support to the child by reason of fault or habit or conduct towards the child or other person.
Nevada law presumes a biological parent “neglected” his/her child if either:
- The child lacks the proper parental care by reason of the fault or habits of his/her parent;
- The child’s parent neglects or refuses to provide proper or necessary subsistence, education, medical or surgical care, or other care necessary for the child’s health, morals, or well-being;
- The child’s parent neglects or refuses to provide the special care made necessary by the child’s physical or mental condition;
- The child is found in a disreputable place or is permitted to associate with vagrants or vicious or immoral persons; or
- The child engages or is in a situation dangerous to life or limb or injurious to the health or morals of the child or others
Nevada law presumes a biological parent “abandoned” his/her child if either:
- The parent leaves the child in the care and custody of another without provision for the child’s support and without communication for a period of 6 months; or
- The child is left under such circumstances that the identity of the parents is unknown and cannot be ascertained despite diligent searching, and the parents do not come forward to claim the child within 3 months after the child is found4
5. How to petition a Nevada court for an adoption
A Nevada petition for adoption must contain very particular information about the child and the adoptive parent’s ability to care for him/her. The petition must include the following:
- The name and age of the people seeking to adopt.
- The age of the child to be adopted.
- A statement that the petitioners intend to establish a parent-child relationship with the child.
- That the petitioners are fit and proper people to have the care and custody of the child.
- That they are able to provide financially.
- That they have received the proper consent required by Nevada law.
Adoption petitions are filed with the applicable Nevada court. The judge reviews the petition and may hold a hearing. The court will grant the petition if it is in the best interest of the child.5
Understandably, it is very hard to adopt children. The state wants to ensure that the children it places are in good hands.
See our related article on adoption fraud in Nevada.
Call a Nevada adoption attorney…
The choice to adopt children is one of the most important decisions a parent will ever make. Though adopting is a joyful time in a parent’s life, the Nevada adoption process can be challenging, trying, contentious, and emotionally draining on the minor and the adoptive and biological parents.
There are many technical procedures and requirements for adoption in Nevada that you may be unaware of. Our Las Vegas adoption lawyers can help guide you through this process and ensure that your adoption experience goes as smoothly as possible for you and your children.
- NRS 127.030.
- NRS 127.020; Adoption Frequently-Asked-Questions, Division of Child & Family Services, Nevada Department of Health & Human Services.
- NRS 127.090; In re Jackson, 55 Nev. 174, 28 P.2d 125 (1934)(“Consent of the parents to the adoption of a legitimate child is a most important item of adoption procedure.”).
- NRS 128.105; NRS 128.014; NRS 128.012; NRS 128.018; see also Mulkern v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of the State of Nev., 429 P.3d 277, 34 Nev. Adv. Rep. 82 (2018)(“Although adoption severs a child‘s legal relationship with the biological parents and places with the adoptive parents the power of making all parental decisions concerning the child, we conclude that adoption does not preclude application of the legislative presumption that placing siblings together is in a child‘s best interest.”); see also In re. Parental Rights as to L.L.S. (2021) 137 Nev., Advance Opinion 22.(“[hearing] masters may not be appointed to preside in TPR trials.”). See also In re. Parental Rights as to T.M.R. (2021) 137 Nev., Advance Opinion 23 (“the nonexpert witness notice requirements in NRCP 16.2 apply to termination of parental rights proceedings.”).
- NRS 127.110; NRS 127.120; NRS 127.150.