When most people picture adoption, they imagine new parents meeting and getting to know kids for the first time. In reality, however, many adults are strongly bonded to the children in their lives long before they undergo the adoption process. Making such relationships official can provide a greater sense of stability while also granting a variety of legal rights and responsibilities.

Legal Implications of Stepparent Adoption

When a stepparent adopts a child, the legal relationship between that child and the birth parent married to the prospective stepparent remains intact. The non-petitioning parent, however, will no longer hold rights to child custody or any obligation to pay child support — unless stipulated otherwise in a legal agreement accompanying the adoption.

Upon the adoption’s finalization, the stepparent officially becomes a legal parent to the child in question. This means that he or she assumes all rights and responsibilities granted to the birth parent.

Consent of the Non-Petitioning Parent

Before children can be adopted, the non-petitioning parent must provide written consent. If the child in question is over the age of 13, he or she must also consent to the adoption in writing.

In select cases, stepparent adoption may be possible even without the non-petitioning parent’s consent — but only if the court has already terminated that parent’s rights. If, however, a parent who still holds rights to his or her children refuses the adoption, the process will prove far more complicated. In such situations, the assistance of a lawyer is nearly always required.

Interested in pursuing adoption as a stepparent? This process can be both exciting and stressful, but you’ll quickly find that it helps to have a trusted family law attorney in your corner. Contact the Brown Law Offices today to learn more about the adoption process.