Stepparent adoptions establish a legal parent-child relationship when the adopting parent is not the birth parent. When the adoption is finalized, the stepparent has all the same permanent legal and financial rights and responsibilities as the birth parent. A stepparent adoption releases the non-custodial parent of his or her responsibilities, including child support payments. In most cases, it is required that the custodial parent and the stepparent have been married, or registered as domestic partners, for a minimum of one year.
The process involves filling out court forms and then attending a hearing with a judge. The child being adopted, his or her biological parent, and the adopting stepparent are required to be present. Because one of the child’s birth parents continues to retain custody, this type of adoption is simpler than others. Most states have streamlined the process so that the hearing judge has the option to dismiss the home study usually required for adoption.
A stepparent adoption typically requires the consent of the non-custodial parent, who will be relieved of all parental responsibilities in the process. If the non-custodial parent objects, or refuses consent, the adoption may be halted. Some states have made provisional exceptions to this rule, if the non-custodial parent has lapsed in communication or contact with the child for a certain length of time.
Our firm supports families in the process of obtaining a stepparent adoption. We fill out the paperwork and facilitate all court proceedings on our client’s behalf. Contact us today for more information, or to schedule a free consultation.