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Can I use FMLA when adopting a child?

Did you know that you can enjoy protections from the Family and Medical Leave Act if you are adopting a child? Many California parents who are pursuing adoption or foster care may not realize that they have the same rights as someone who has had a biological child. Today, we discuss the details relating to FMLA and the adoption process.

When can I start taking FMLA leave for my child's adoption?

Prospective parents are permitted to begin taking their FMLA leave before their child is formally adopted. Parents often have to attend counseling sessions, placement examinations, court hearings and other events in order to successfully adopt a child. All of these activities are covered under FMLA provisions. An employer would be committing an FMLA violation by attempting to block this type of leave.

How long does the FMLA leave last for adoptive parents?

If you are adopting a child, you may take your FMLA leave at any point within the 12-month period beginning with the date of placement. California law may allow additional leave for adoptive parents, but it is not covered under FMLA requirements.

Are there any restrictions on using the leave?

Yes. In some cases, parents may only be entitled to 12 total weeks of FMLA leave between the two of them. If both parents are employed by the same company, for example, they are limited to a total of 12 weeks of leave during a single 12-month period. In other situations, both parents are permitted to take 12 weeks each; your individual situation could permit you to take different lengths of time away from your job. Consulting with a qualified family attorney can help you learn more about your legal rights when it comes to FMLA.

What happens if I was unfairly denied time off for family leave related to adoption?

You might need legal help to force your employer to provide you with the time off that you deserve. Adoptive parents have the same rights as biological parents when it comes to FMLA leave.

Source: Legal Information Institute, "Leave for adoption or foster care," accessed Sep. 09, 2015

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