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I want to adopt my stepchild. What should I know?

| Jul 29, 2020 | Firm News |

It is not unusual for two divorcees with children in the Jackson area to re-marry, creating a blended family. Sometimes these stepparents become so close to their stepchildren that they wish to adopt them. The following are some things to know if you are looking into adopting your stepchild.

Consent in a stepparent adoption

First, in all stepparent adoptions, the child’s other biological parent must consent to the adoption. This means their parental rights to the child will be terminated. Some biological parents will not want to give up all their rights to the child, so this requirement can sometimes be difficult to meet. However, parental rights can be terminated even without consent in cases of abandonment or if the child’s other biological parent is deemed by the court to be unfit.

Child abandonment and parental unfitness

It may be possible to show a biological parent has abandoned the child if there is no communication between the biological parent and the child or the biological parent has not paid child support for a certain amount of time.

To show a biological parent is unfit, generally a fitness hearing will be held. A biological parent may be found to be unfit in cases of abuse, neglect, failure to visit, drug or alcohol addiction, incarceration of if the biological parent has a mental disturbance.

Attorneys can assist with stepparent adoption

Ultimately, sometimes a child’s biological parent will not object to stepparent adoption, but other times they will fight it. When this happens, it is important to seek the help of an experienced attorney who will provide comprehensive support. Every family’s situation is unique, so it is important to seek the advice of an attorney that understands the challenges you face with stepparent adoption.