Adoption Inquiry? Contact Dawn or email [email protected].

Flate Rate Cases

Generally, Dawn decides in conversation with you, either on the phone or at the first meeting, whether a flat rate is available, and if so, the rate.

Cases are taken using a flat rate when the amount of legal work necessary looks pretty predictable. Court costs and other similar non-fee costs are not included in flat rates but when a flat rate is offered, the cost of the first meeting is included in the flat rate.

Most people prefer the predictability of a flat rate when that option is available. However, if you prefer to be billed hourly, you can always select that instead at the beginning of the case. 

If the basic assumptions underlying a flat rate calculation change, for example, the birth parent who said they would consent, won’t consent and the case is now contested, the case is converted to hourly billing. Contested cases are never billed on a flat rate.

Fees for foster parents 

If you are a DCS foster parent, you can hire the attorney of your choice to help you adopt your foster child, and if the child meets DCS’s special needs criteria, DCS will pay the fee.

Dawn accepts DCS payment and includes extras for you in that fee that some other attorneys don’t offer. Dawn is also sometimes hired by foster parents on an hourly basis to help them understand and navigate issues that arise before it is time to file an adoption petition. Some say that foster parents’ contracts prohibit them from consulting a lawyer at their own expense.  This is not true.  Learn more about hiring Dawn Coppock in a DCS case.

Range of Fees for Common Cases on a Flat Fee Basis  

The information provided here is not price quotes for your case. It is a guide that we use to set a specific price or retainer to cases based on legal services required to complete different types of adoptions.

The ranges provided assume one child and filing in Knox, Sevier or Jefferson Counties with one trip to the courthouse for finalization. Modest travel fees apply to other travel in flat rate cases. Dawn’s common travel range is between Nashville and Tennessee’s eastern border and includes Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville and Johnson City

  • Relative, step-parent and adult adoption:  $2800- $6500
    • The primary variables that determine the fee are the number of birth parents involved, if they will consent, and the ease of service of those who will not consent.  Consent of the parent(s) to be terminated is not required in an adult adoption.
  • Adoption after placements by private adoption agencies, domestic and also including international with (IR-4 Visa):  $2000
  • For domestic agency placements for out of state agencies:  $3000
  • International Readoption (IR-3 or HR-3 Visa):  $1500
  • Additional full siblings can be added on the same petition for about $800 each.
Coppock on Tennessee Adoption Law

Hourly Cases

Hourly cases are billed at $350.00 per hour for Dawn’s time. 

Paralegal time is billed at a lower rate. 

In hourly cases, Dawn provides a realistic, initial estimate of the legal fees or range of possible fees for the legal work requested, so you can plan. A retainer is charged at the beginning of the case. The amount of the retainer is Dawn’s realistic but optimistic guess of what the case will cost. Unearned portions of retainers are always refunded to clients when the case ends. If the requirements of the case exceed the initial retainer, an additional retainer is requested.  

Depending on the demands of Dawn’s writing and speaking commitments, sometimes she is not available to take on cases that will be extremely time intensive or geographically distant.  But even when she can’t take a case, she is usually available to consult with individuals or their counsel or to offer a referral on the phone.

Hourly cases are billed monthly even though you will usually have a credit balance. This allows you to see how your retainer is used and to promptly ask questions or provide direction. Billing questions are always free.  Fair and transparent billing and satisfied clients is the goal.

Related Hourly Services

Dawn can also be hired to consult with your primary attorney at a rate of $450 per hour.

If she does not yet represent anyone in the case, she can be engaged as a mediator to help the parties try to reach a settlement.


Can I get a federal adoption tax credit?

The federal government offers a valuable tax credit for many types of adoptions. Refer to the IRS publication for specifics. Adoption Tax Credit Information

Generally, the following types of adoptions are eligible for a federal tax credit:

  • Special Needs Adoptions- this type of adoption may permit a tax credit in excess of money spent pursuing the adoption 
  • State Agency Adoptions (in Tennessee this is the Department of Children’s Services)- this type of adoption may permit a tax credit in excess of money spent pursuing the adoption 
  • Private or Independent Adoptions
  • Agency Adoptions
  • Relative Adoptions (except step parent adoptions)
  • Intercountry Adoptions (only eligible if finalized)
  • Expenses paid pursuing all the above types of adoption, except intercountry, could be credited even if the adoption is never finalized.

The following types of adoptions are NOT normally eligible for the federal adoption tax credit:

  • Adoptions in connection with surrogacy arrangements
  • Step parent adoptions
  • Adult adoptions

Dawn is Ready to Help with Your Unique Adoption Case

For over 30 years, Dawn has been an adoption and child-welfare advocate nationally and in Tennessee. She knows where the system is working and the places that it is not. She offers her frank assessment to policymakers, (Public Outcry article), and sometimes they listen. And Dawn is very active in writing and speaking to help train the next generation of adoption attorneys.

Dawn represents families in most types of adoption and termination of parental rights cases. She also frequently consults with foster parents. Her time is increasingly dominated by writing, training, consulting, and meditating, so she can’t take every case with merit. She continues to take almost all uncontested adoptions, like agency and DCS cases and relative adoptions with consent or where the other party is unlikely to contest.  Even when she can’t take a case, a consultation permits Dawn to share her experience about whether it is the right time to file a case, and if so, exactly what and where to file, and to create a litigation plan. She even suggests possible lawyers to complete the case.

If a termination of parental rights case is already underway, Dawn can also consult with one party or mediate for all parties but of course, not both.

If you want to talk with Dawn about your case: please contact Angela Newsome, paralegal, for information on Dawn’s availability and to schedule an appointment.