Details concerning stepparent adoption laws, birth parent approval, and termination of parental rights.
Stepparent adoption is an official court process allowing a biological parent’s spouse to adopt their spouse’s child. When a court concludes a stepparent adoption, the child is going to get a new birth certificate having the adoptive parent’s name placed in the biological parent area, and when desired, is also going to take the last name of that parent.
Stepparent adoptions are the most common adoption procedure in the US since the process is more efficient and less complex than other types of adoption. For instance, a lot of adoptions necessitate a home study, which could take several months to finish, but many states forgo the study in stepparent adoptions.
Even though the stepparent adoption process might be easier in a lot of respects, the most difficult task can be getting consent from the other birth parent.
Getting Parental Consent
Many biological parents approve of the adoption because it’s in the best interest of their child. Others might agree since it is going to eliminate their liability to pay child support after the adoption is finalized. In ideal situations, the non-custodial biological parent agrees to the adoption, and you are able to file a joint request.
Nevertheless, it’s often difficult to get parental consent to adoption since this means relinquishing all their rights to their child. In general, a complete cessation of parental rights means that the biological parent:
- relinquishes all power to make any decisions concerning the child
- surrenders all visitation rights and no longer can see or spend time with the child, and
- surrenders their communication right to the child.
If you have difficulty coming to an agreement, or the other biological parent will not give consent, you are going to need to petition the court to cease the rights of the other biological parent. The judge is not going to allow the adoption to progress unless there’s a valid reason to cease parental rights, such as desertion, incompetence, or a history of abusing the child.
Asking the Court to Terminate Parental Rights
When your child’s other birth parent won’t consent to the adoption, or if you are unable locate the parent, you can petition the court for assistance. The court’s main concern is what is best for the child, and you can prove that adoption is best in a number of ways. On the other hand, since termination of parental rights is absolute, reasonable doubt is very high, and the court is only going to allow the adoption to progress if it’s definite that it’s best for the child.
You might feel hopeless throughout the adoption process if the other parent is unavailable and you are unable to get consent. Nevertheless, the stepparent adoption process can proceed if you can show that the parent hasn’t been in contact with the child or hasn’t exercised their parental rights for them. Each state’s abandonment laws differ, but most states necessitate a minimum of one year to go by in which the parent has declined to support or communicate with their child. In circumstances in which the parent is paying child support but does not see the child or practice any other parental rights, the termination of rights process might be more complex.
When the other parent has a history abusing the child, is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, or is imprisoned, the court is going to conduct a hearing to establish if it’s in the best interest of child to let that parent proceed to exercise their parental rights. In these kinds of cases, when the biological parent’s spouse is balanced and devoted to providing the child with an improved life, the court may unwillingly terminate the other parent’s rights and enable the stepparent adoption to progress.
If the unavailable parent is male, his rights can be terminated when you can prove to the court that he isn’t the child’s biological father. Every state has differing laws concerning who is assumed to be the biological parent, so it’s vital to understand what the laws in your state are. For instance, in Michigan, when opposite-sex couples marry when the child is birthed, the court systematically assumes that the wife’s husband is the biological father, so the birth certificate of the child is going to show that he is the biological father. when either spouse later finds out that the assumption is wrong, the parent is going to need to fulfill the state’s requirements (within the time required), to disprove the assumption.
When you can demonstrate that the other biological parent does not fulfill your state’s provisions for presumed parenthood, the court is able to terminate that parent’s rights, and you can continue with your stepparent adoption. Nevertheless, when the other biological parent does not consent and proves that the presumed parenthood is correct, you are going to be required to either get consent from them or petition the court to cease parental rights by proving desertion, incompetence, or any other state-sanctioned standard.
Stepparent Adoptions and Same-Sex Marriages
In 2015, the United States Supreme Court reversed the ban on same-sex marriage making it legal throughout the US. Before to this, couples residing in states where same-sex marriage was illegal were unable to petition the court for stepparent adoption, even when each of the biological parents consented. Regrettably, this meant that if the biological parent passed away, the child would probably end up living with unknown people rather than the other (nonbiological) parent.
Currently, on the other hand, when you are legally married to a same-sex partner, you are going to have the same legal rights to stepparent adoption as opposite-sex spouses do. However, you are going have to meet the same provisions as other spouses. It’s commonplace for same-sex couples to have children by way of egg or sperm donors, and usually the donors sign over parental rights, in which eliminates the monumental task of getting consent in a stepparent adoption.
Nevertheless, when one biological parent has a child with an ex-spouse or ex-partner, you are going to need to get consent or go through court procedures of terminating parental rights prior to you finalizing your adoption.
- Melissa Heinig, A. (2018, September 20). Stepparent adoptions. www.nolo.com. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/stepparent-adoptions-29643.html
Adoption Lawyer in Arizona
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