Being a parent is one of the most rewarding responsibilities a person can have and, if you are a stepparent, you will inevitably face hurdles that most other parents never encounter as you try to fulfill an important role in your stepchild’s life. In some cases, stepparents choose to take on more responsibilities in the lives of their stepchildren by formally adopting them. The process for this, of course, presents its own unique challenges.
If you are interested in adopting your spouse’s children, we have provided a list of answers to some of the most pressing questions stepparents have when it comes to adoption.
Frequently asked questions regarding the process of stepparent adoption:
- Is it difficult to adopt a spouse’s children? Compared to other types of adoption, stepparent adoption is not necessarily as difficult, but it is still a process that will require some patience and effort. Generally, the primary obstacle in a stepparent adoption is the issue of obtaining consent from the other birth parent.
- How long does the process take? Since no two adoption cases are alike, neither will the timeframe. The length of your stepchild adoption case will depend on numerous factors, particularly if it is contested or not by the other birth parent. Generally, an uncontested case where everyone agrees to the terms and signs all the necessary paperwork can be completed within a few months.
- Will I need the other birth parent’s consent? In all stepparent adoptions, the consent from the birth parent is required. However, if the other parent’s parental rights were already terminated, you would not need his or her consent. In cases where the other birth parent still has parental rights, this can be difficult since giving consent means that parent would have to give up all parental rights and responsibilities. If the other birth parent does not have much of a relationship with the child, obtaining consent might be easier.
- What happens if the other parent will not consent? If the other birth parent does not consent to the adoption, there are other ways to go about terminating his or her parental rights, thereby eliminating the need for that parent’s consent. In order for the other birth parent’s rights to be terminated, he or she must have either abandoned the child or was found to be unfit as a parent.
- If I am able to successfully adopt my stepchild, does this mean the other birth parent’s rights are terminated? Once the court enters a final judgment and grants your request to adopt your spouse’s child, the parental rights of the other birth parent will automatically be terminated. This means he or she will no longer have any visitation or custody rights, and will no longer be obligated to make child support payments.
- Can the child’s name be changed during the adoption process? If requested, the final judgment of adoption will change the child’s name, issuing a new birth certificate with that name. Additionally, the adoptive parent’s name will also be reflected on the child’s new birth certificate. After your adoption is approved by the court, you can expect to receive your child’s new birth certificate anywhere between four and six weeks.
- What happens if we ever get divorced? Once you are able to successfully adopt your stepchild, you would have the same rights as your spouse, the biological parent. If you were to get divorced later on down the road, this means you would have equal standing as parents and would both have an obligation to financially support the child. Additionally, as in any other divorce involving children, you would likely both share custody unless one of you is considered to be an unfit parent.
Child Adoption Attorneys in Katy, Texas
If you wish to take on a bigger role in the life of your stepchild and would like to adopt him or her, you will need a skilled adoption attorney on your side to guide you through the process from start to finish to ensure it goes smoothly. At Fischer Law Firm P.C. in Katy, our experienced adoption attorneys are dedicated to assisting clients navigate numerous family law matters, including stepchild adoption. Do not attempt to field your way through this complex legal matter on your own. For the results you deserve, work with a team that is not only compassionate, but has a proven track record of success.
Get started on your adoption case today and reach out to our law firm at (346) 444-1050 to request a free initial case evaluation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.