Step Parent Adoption in Minnesota is a rewarding part of our family law practice; it involves one of the few “nice” things that happen at the courthouse. The process varies from county to county. For that reason, it makes sense to work with a step-parent adoption lawyer who is familiar with adoption protocol in your area.
The Stepparent Adoption Process
A step-parent adoption in Minnesota involves four steps: (1) termination of the biological parent’s parental rights; (2) petitioning the court for adoption; (3) background work conducted by social services; and (4) the final hearing. The process typically takes about six months to complete.
Termination of Parental Rights
Stepchild adoption under Minnesota law recognizes two ways to terminate an individual’s parental rights: (1) voluntarily; or (2) involuntarily. These two processes could not be more distinct from one another.
In a voluntary termination of parental rights, a biological parent consents to the adoption. The biological parent will execute a Voluntary Termination and Waiver of Future Notice of Adoption Proceedings before a notary. Once signed, there is a two-week “cooling off” period. During that 14-day stretch, the biological parent may revoke the consent form.
Judges will only accept a voluntary termination of parental rights if another individual is waiting to adopt the relevant child. The Court is most concerned about ensuring that someone has a legal responsibility to provide support for the child.
In some situations, a parent’s parental rights may be terminated involuntarily. Court action is required, and the party seeking to involuntarily terminate must demonstrate that the other parent has abandoned the child, or otherwise puts the child at risk. Given the strong presumption that parents are entitled to raise their own children, involuntary termination cases are some of the most difficult to pursue. Most of these cases require assistance from step-parent adoption lawyers in Minnesota to navigate the legal nuances.
Petition For Adoption
Once the termination of parental rights issues are resolved, the party seeking to adopt the child, along with the non-terminating parent and a qualified stepchild adoption attorney in Minnesota, will file a Petition for Adoption with the Court.
The Petition spells out the basic facts, including the names and ages of all involved, their address, the length of time the parties have been married, and an affirmation that the adoption serves the best interest of the minor child.
Social Services Involvement
Once the court administrator receives the adoption paperwork, a number of background tasks may be performed by social services. The degree and scope of work undertaken by social services varies from county to county. Some counties limit their inquiry to a basic criminal history check, while other counties pursue more thorough background searches or home studies.
The Final Hearing
Following any tasks undertaken by social services, the court administrator will schedule a final hearing. The parties, and the minor child, will need to appear before a judge and affirm the contents of the adoption petition. If a child is old enough, the Court may inquire as to whether the child desires to have the adoption move forward.
With help from experienced stepchild adoption lawyers in Minnesota, the Adoption Decree will be signed and entered with the court administrator once with court is satisfied. Thereafter, amended birth certificates may be obtained, along with a host of other paperwork surrounding the child’s identity and the newly created legal relationship between parent and child.
Historical Four-Parent Adoption
Our adoption lawyers recently represented four individuals in Minnesota’s first four-parent adoption. The case received attention from the Minnesota Judicial Branch, various bar associations and local media.
How Can We Help?
If you have questions about step parent adoptions in Minnesota, contact our law firm at (763) 323-6555. Our lawyers will provide answers to all of your important questions and give you a sense of how your matter may be resolved.