How to Handle Stepparent Adoption

Adoption of stepchildren can be accomplished fairly easily when you know the legal steps involved. Blended families make up a significant number of households today. When parents with children decide to remarry, stepparent adoption is a logical next step. Adopting a stepchild is one of the most common types of adoption in the United States. Stepparent adoption provides full legal custody, allowing the stepparent to share parenting responsibilities. Blended families thrive when both custodial parents have the legal right to participate in important decisions regarding education, religion, and health care.

Laws Governing the Adoption of Stepchildren

Each state has specific laws governing the issue of adoption of stepchildren. In many states, adopting a stepchild is an easier process than other types of adoption. In most states, you must file stepparent adoption forms with the court. US Legal Forms has affordable, professionally drafted stepparent adoption forms that comply with state laws.

When filing the forms, a stepparent may be required to provide proof of information, including a marriage certificate, proof of the noncustodial parent's consent to adoption, and the child's birth certificate. Once the stepparent adoption forms have been filed with the court, a hearing will be scheduled. This hearing will give the judge the opportunity to ask questions and ensure that there are no major concerns that are associated with the adoption. At the end of this hearing, the judge will set a date for the adoption to be finalized. Once the adoption is finalized, state laws vary on applying for a new birth certificate that lists the stepparent as the legal parent to the child. The vital records department of the birth state should be contacted regarding applicable procedures for an amended birth certificate.

Terminating Parental Rights

Before the adoption can be finalized, both legal parents must give adoption consent. Once the noncustodial parent consents to the adoption by stepparent, that parent will give up all rights and responsibilities to that child. When a parent relinquishes parental rights, he or she is no longer obligated to pay child support or maintain other legal obligations to the child. In some cases, convincing the noncustodial parent to consent to adoption can be challenging. When the other parent is reluctant to relinquish parental rights, it may be a good idea to consult with a lawyer to help you with the process of adopting a stepchild.

Some states will authorize adoption by stepparent even in cases in which the other parent does not consent. However, these cases are uncommon and often involve complicated situations. If the other parent is contesting the adoption, it may be necessary to consult with an attorney.

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