Where Are Adoption Cases Heard?

Adoption cases are heard by the court in the state of adoption.


All states have a court system that determines which court hear which type of cases. This is known as jurisdiction. for example, the state criminal court will hear criminal cases. Adoption will be heard by civil courts. The adoption petition must be filed in the appropriate court.

Examples of Jurisdiction

The court names vary from one state to another. Cases are heard in the court of original jurisdiction. The appeals court hears appeals against the orders passed by the courts of original jurisdiction. Adoption petitions must be filed in the appropriate court of original jurisdiction.

StatesCourt Name
Wisconsin, West Virginia, Virginia, South Dakota, Oregon, Missouri, Michigan, Kentucky, Illinois, Florida, ArkansasCircuit Court
Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Wyoming, Oklahoma, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, Montana, Kansas, IdahoDistrict Court
Guam, Washington, North Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey, California, Arizona, AlaskaSuperior Court
Vermont, Ohio, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Indiana, Connecticut, AlabamaProbate Court
South Carolina, Rhode Island, New York, Hawaii, DelawareFamily Court
Minnesota, Louisiana, ColoradoJuvenile Court
MarylandCourt of Equity
MississippiChancery Court
PennsylvaniaCourt of Common Pleas
Northern Mariana IslandsTrial Court
Virgin IslandsTerritorial Court
Puerto RicoCourt of First Instance


In a few states, more than one court can have jurisdiction. For example, the juvenile court and the district court in Iowa and the family court and probate court in New York. In Texas, the district court and the juvenile court will exercise jurisdiction while in Tennessee the chancery and circuit courts have jurisdiction. In some states other courts have jurisdiction under certain circumstances. In Utah, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Georgia, California and Alabama, the juvenile court will exercise jurisdiction when the child was in the court’s supervision in the past or the court passed ordered on termination of parental rights. If the child is an Indian child, then the tribal courts in Nevada and New Mexico will have jurisdiction. If the adoption is contested, then the trial division of the high court in American Samoa will have jurisdiction.


Venue is the geographical location of the court hearing the case. Generally all states have courts of all types in different counties. The adoption petition must be filed in the appropriate court located at the place convenient to the parties involved. Some states have a residency requirement. Generally the venue will be the county where the adoptive parents reside or where the agency is located.

Seek the assistance of an experienced adoption attorney in your state for assistance of choosing the right court and venue for your adoption petition.

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