Monday, January 16, 2017

Virginia Step Parent Adoption Process

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

*** Stay tuned for out next post on: Step Parent Adoption; Biological Father Uninvolved or Unknown

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


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