Stepparent Adoption: What You Need to Know

Stepparent adoption is becoming a common case, and one that I’m happy to support. When a stepparent becomes a major figure in a child’s life, it’s a warming scene to be a part of.

Unfortunately, a loving relationship inside of a warm household isn’t enough to grant custody in a stepparent’s attempt to adopt. The biological parent still holds paternal rights on their child. With a simple objection, they can put a stop to the entire process.

But that objection doesn’t mean the end of the road for a stepparent. If the adoption is something they feel strongly enough to pursue, there are ways to have the objecting, biological parent’s rights terminated.

Steps to initiating the stepparent adoption process

When initiating an adoption, the first step is to file the petition with the court. In this case, the stepparent looking to adopt their stepchild will be the one filing. You’ll need to provide all of your own information, as well as your stepchild’s. Once this petition has been filed with the court, the biological parent will have the option of either surrendering their parental rights or objecting to the petition.

If the biological parent surrenders their rights, congratulations! Take your stepchild – now your child! – out for a celebration. The next steps will be gaining new documents such as birth certificate, social security card, and any other legal documentation with your new child’s name on it. On every piece of documentation, your name will now appear in place of the biological parent’s.

If the biological parent objects the petition and decides to fight the case, things can go in a few different directions and will most likely require litigation.

Ways to gain parental rights if the biological parent objects to the petition

It’s disheartening, getting back a signed letter stating that the biological parent has objected to the petition to terminate their rights. This can either be the end of your journey to stepparent adoption or just the beginning.

If you want to fight for rights through litigation after the biological parent’s objection, you’ll need to have strong proof of the following:

·      Has the parent abandoned the child? (In the eyes of the court, abandonment is going without attempted contact with the child for 12 months.)

·      Is the biological parent medically or judicially incompetent?

·      In the case of a biological father, have they not legally established paternity?

In the eyes of the state, a biological parent’s rights are theirs to be lost. If you can prove, with strong evidence, that the biological parent has identified with any of the aforementioned bullets listed, you may have a strong case.

Please note: If the case for stepparent adoption is sided in your favor, any child support payments are terminated along with the parental rights. And in the event of a future divorce, the stepparent (now the legal parent) may be responsible for child support payments.

Are you wondering if you have a strong case?

The process can be a simple one or a long one. If the biological parent agrees to terminate their rights, the process could be over in as little as 8 weeks. But if they object, the timeline could last much longer.

If you’re thinking of going through the stepparent adoption process, get in touch with me today and I’ll answer any questions you may have.