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Adopting a child is a life-altering experience, and it’s no different in Texas. But the Lone Star State has some unique laws when it comes to adoption that you should be aware of if you’re planning on going through with the process. In this blog post, we’ll discuss one of those laws in particular: how to prove that an equitable adoption took place in Texas. We’ll explain what exactly constitutes an equitable adoption in the state and provide tips on how to make sure your adoption meets all of Texas’ requirements.

What is an equitable adoption?

An equitable adoption is one that is fair to all parties involved. It takes into account the best interests of the child and the wishes of the biological parents. Equitable adoptions are rare, but they do happen.

If you want to prove that an equitable adoption took place in Texas, you’ll need to show that:

1. The child was placed with the adoptive parents in accordance with Texas law;

2. The placement was made with the consent of the child’s biological parents; and

3. The placement was in the best interests of the child.

Additionally, the adoptive parents must be able to show that they have met all of the legal requirements for adoption in Texas. This includes obtaining a home study and completing all of the necessary paperwork.

Why is it important to prove that an equitable adoption took place?

In Texas, an equitable adoption is one where the adoptive parents and the birth parents share equally in the decision-making process regarding the child’s adoption. This type of adoption is important to prove because it ensures that both parties are equally invested in the child’s welfare and future. Additionally, it can help prevent disputes between the adoptive parents and the birth parents down the road.

How to prove that an equitable adoption took place in Texas?

In order to prove that an equitable adoption took place in Texas, the following elements must be present:

1. An agreement between the parties to the adoption. This agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties.

2. The adopted child must have been living with the adoptive parents for at least six months prior to the filing of the petition for adoption.

3. The consent of the child’s biological parent or parents must be obtained prior to the adoption. If the child is over 12 years of age, his or her consent must also be obtained.

4. The consent of the spouse of the adopting parent must be obtained, unless the spouse is not living with the adopting parent or has been absent from the home for more than one year preceding the date of filing the petition for adoption.

5. The court must find that it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the petitioning party before granting an equitable adoption.

Texas Case Law

Texas case law is the body of judicial decisions and opinions made in the courts of the State of Texas. This includes both published and unpublished court opinions issued by all levels of the Texas judiciary, including the Supreme Court of Texas, the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Courts of Appeals, and district courts. It also includes federal court cases from Texas that are appealed to higher federal courts. The laws contained within these cases form a large part of Texas statutory law, as well as its common law, which is based upon legal principles established by earlier judicial decisions.

Luna v. Estate of Rodriguez

 906 S.W.2d 576 (Tex. App.—Austin 1995, no writ)

Facts & Procedural History

Henry Rodriguez (Decedent) died intestate and without children on December 26, 1991. After Decedent’s passing, Christopher Luna (Appellant) filed an application for declaration of heirship, alleging that he was Decedent’s equitably adopted son. His application named Hilario Rodriguez (Henry’s brother) and Kay Rodriguez (Henry’s second wife) as respondents (collectively, Appellees). Appellee Rodriguez argued that Appellant’s application was insufficient as a matter of law (it lacked certain elements necessary for an equitable adoption). The trial court then granted Appellee Rodriguez’s motion for summary judgment and declined to rule that Decedent had equitably adopted Appellant. The trial court also found Appellees Hilario and Kay Rodriguez to be the heirs of Decedent’s estate.

Appellant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in (1) finding that there was no equitable adoption by Decedent; and (2) by declaring Appellee Rodriguez and Appellee Rodriguez as Decedent’s heirs. The Court of Appeals held that: (1) genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether Decedent engaged in an agreement to adopt Appellant; and (2) the determination of whether the trial court erred in finding Appellees’ to be Decedent’s heirs relied upon whether Appellant’s application for a declaration of heirship was valid. The Court of Appeals stated that Appellee Rodriguez had not provided summary judgment evidence sufficient to show that no equitable adoption took place. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded the case to the trial court for a trial on the merits.

Main Considerations

What is required to prove an equitable adoption took place?

An individual trying to prove an equitable adoption occurred must provide: (1) proof of an agreement to adopt, (2) performance by the child, and (3) the child’s reliance on the agreement to adopt or on the child’s belief in its adoptive status. In addition to these elements, the individual must give proof of the date on which the agreement to adopt took place. To explain further, a court will support a child’s status as adopted in situations where a biological parent transports a child to custodians who have agreed to adopt the child, and the custodians and the child then act as parent and child.

What is required for a motion for summary judgment to be granted?

The movant must show that (1) there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact; and (2) that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Summary judgment should not be granted there is a genuine issue with a material fact (where a reasonable jury could rule in favor of either party after reviewing the evidence).

The Takeaway

Luna v. Estate of Rodriguez shows that summary judgment is not appropriate where the summary judgment evidence does not indicate that the absence of an equitable adoption agreement is not a material fact.


Proving an equitable adoption in Texas may be a complicated process, but with the right evidence and legal help, it can be done. It’s important to ensure that all of the requirements outlined by Texas law are met before making any official changes. Start by researching what is necessary for a successful adoption and consider speaking with an experienced attorney to make sure that everything is correctly documented. With careful planning and preparation, your equitable adoption should have no issues being approved.

Do you need an Experienced Probate Attorney to help?

If you are facing probate issues in Texas, it is advisable to seek the help of an experienced probate attorney. Probate can be a complex process, and an experienced attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected and that the process goes smoothly.

There are a few situations in which you may need to prove that an equitable adoption took place in Texas. For example, if you are trying to inherit property from someone who died without a will, you may need to show that you were adopted by that person in order to inherit their property.

If you are facing probate issues in Texas, contact an experienced probate attorney today.

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