There are many reasons for a stepparent to adopt their spouse’s child. This legal action creates more stability for children and cements a close relationship into that of family. In addition, it ensures that a child will have a familiar caregiver if something happens to their natural parent. Adopting a stepchild is usually smooth with the right legal assistance, but there are a few challenges that can pop up.
First, courts may have requirements in order for an adoption to qualify as a stepparent adoption. These vary by area. In general, it is best if the stepparent is legally married to the child’s parent and has been for at least a year. This shows that time has been taken to build a family home and that the stepparent is truly functioning as a parent rather than a parent’s partner.
In addition, the other parent has rights. The original mother or father may decide not to give up their rights and instead to contest the stepparent adoption. In some cases, it is difficult to cut parental rights not because the person contests, but because they cannot be located at all. These situations both can be quite an obstacle because the courts prefer to preserve parental rights unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.
In general, the courts will terminate the natural parent’s rights without their consent if they are found to have abandoned the child. Most courts consider it child abandonment if the other parent has not communicated with, visited, or supported the child in a year or longer. It is important to try to find and inform the other parent, but it may not be necessary if they are truly out of the picture and cannot be located.
Neither of these obstacles will stop an adoption, but rather make it more difficult. It is still possible with the right legal help to make more complicated stepparent adoptions happen. Courts prefer to give children as much stability as possible if it can be accomplished without interfering with the rights of another person. While stepparent adoption may seem complicated, it is a labor of love that leads to more security and love for all parties involved.
If you would like to adopt your step children make sure you have somebody by your side to walk you through all of the legal processes. Contact the Law Offices Of Gary J. Natale, P.C. today.