Friday, August 2, 2013

Step Parent Adoption


Step Parent Adoption: What are the steps? Are there specific rules to follow? There are really practical reasons to pursue a step parent adoption, such as everyone in the family having the same name.  Or allowing the new parent to authorize medical care, help a teen obtain a driver's license, or to interact with the child's school.  In some instances, the child's biological parent is not available and it just makes sense to have both parents in the home have legal recognition as the child's parent.

Step Parent Adoption is the most common form of adoption.  Often times when a parent remarries, the new spouse will become more of a parent to the child than the child’s birth parent.  If the child’s birth parent has had little to no contact with the child or is willing to sign a consent, then the process for the step parent adoption is relatively easy. Other scenarios which are fairly straightforward are when the identity of the biological parent is unknown or that parent is deceased.

However, not all step parent adoptions are uncomplicated.  The biological parent's rights must be taken into account. If a biological parent is involved in the child's life and refuses to consent to the adoption, the step parent adoption may be a highly litigated proceeding.  To avoid this outcome, the parties could agree to visitation by the biological parent and this agreement could be incorporated into the adoption decree. Often, an objecting biological parent is most concerned about maintaining contact with the child and the post adoption contact agreement satisfies the concern. 

The steps you will need to take when going through a step parent adoption:

1.       Consult an adoption attorney

2.       Consider whether the biological parent must consent to          adoption

3.       Attorney gathers and submits legal forms

4.       Attend the hearing--usually not required

5.       Obtain the final order of adoption--usually a month            after the case is filed
6.       Obtain a second birth certificate for the child with the       child's new name and the new parent listed as the parent


 Growing up, there was a family down the street from me that had recently lost the father of the house to a severe illness.  The kids at the time were so young, around the ages of 5 and 8.  It was a hard time for everyone, all the neighbors were really close and we were all there supporting each other.  After some time had passed, the mom fell in love and decided to get remarried.  She wasn’t getting remarried to just anyone, she was getting married to one of their close family friends that had been there for her through it all.  He was there helping with the kids while her husband was ill, and continued to take care of her and the two children after he had passed.  At the wedding, they announced that the step parent would be adopting her two children, but that they were still going to honor the kid’s birth father by not changing their last names.  A step parent adoption can provide legal recognition for the new family in a way that still honors the biological parent.





Drafted by Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.

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