Adopting a stepchild? It’s a two-part process

| Apr 19, 2021 | Family Law

When you married your spouse, it was with every intention to raise their child as if they were your own. You’ve taken over the role as their second parent and have been there for every major event from birthdays to athletic events.

You’d like to take this one step further and adopt your stepchild, but you’re not sure if it’s possible. While both your spouse and stepchild are onboard with the idea, you still need to make sure you do what’s right for your stepchild and for both biological parents.

Adopting a stepchild is a two-part process

Adopting a stepchild is a two-part process. It starts with making sure that your stepchild’s other biological parent no longer has parental rights. If they do, then you will not be able to move forward with the adoption.

After terminating the other party’s parental rights, then a judge in family court has to determine that the adoption is in your stepchild’s best interests. If they agree, then a judgment of adoption can be entered.

Terminating parental rights isn’t always a simple task

Depending on the situation, terminating the other parent’s rights may be difficult. It is likely to be impossible in cases where the other parent is actively involved in the child’s life and is a positive influence, because there is no reason for their rights to be threatened. However, if that parent gives consent to terminate their rights or if they have abandoned their child for many months prior to your request to adopt, then the termination may be approved.

Terminating another person’s parental rights when they’re the biological parent isn’t simple, so it’s important to talk to your attorney to have them walk you through this aspect of the case.

Following the termination of parental rights, you have the chance to adopt

Once you’re able to have those rights terminated, then you’ll be in a better position to move forward with the adoption of your stepchild. Remember, both your current spouse and stepchild (if they’re old enough) will need to approve of the adoption for it to move forward in court.

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