What You Need To Know About Adopting Your Stepchild

What You Need To Know About Adopting Your Stepchild

September 23, 2020 Off By Glespynorson

You have spent a great deal of time building a loving relationship with your stepchild. Now you would like to officially adopt them. Here are some important steps you need to be prepared to take. These steps assume that you are currently married to one of the child’s biological parents.

Know The Law

Adoption is a complicated legal process. You will need to consult an attorney at a firm like Schill Law Group to make sure that you meet all legal requirements. There are several legal issues to consider. If you adopt your stepchild, this may impact their ability to automatically inherit assets from their birth parent if that parent dies. The court may have a set length of time that you must be married to the child’s birth parent before you can adopt the child.

Consider The Rights Of The Child And Biological Parents

There are three parties who may have to consent to the adoption. Your spouse will, of course, have to give permission for you to adopt. The child’s other biological parent will have to agree to the adoption as well in most cases. Your stepchild may have to give authorization, depending on their age and the laws of your state. If the child is a pre-teen or teen, they may need to officially consent to the adoption. There will be a great deal of paperwork involved, and your lawyer will need to assist you with it.

Unless you know for sure that your spouse’s ex-partner is willing to sign over their parental rights, you need to be prepared for a long and sometimes contentious process. If they have not visited or supported your stepchild for some time, the court may not demand their consent.

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Be Prepared For An Interview And Background Check

As part of the adoption process, many states will require a detailed investigation to ensure that you are fit to be a parent. Often, you will need to submit to a background check, especially to look for convictions for child abuse. Other crimes may disqualify you for adoption as well. Sometimes, a representative from a social services agency will visit you at home to observe how you interact with your stepchild.

Complete The Adoption Through The Courts

You and your lawyer will need to make sure that all of your adoption paperwork is accurate and submitted correctly or the adoption could be invalidated later. Generally, you will need to fill out an adoption petition first. Be sure that you have all of your identification ready, as well as your spouse’s and your stepchild’s. It could take several months to get to the next step. You may need to go to a preliminary hearing, where the court will examine your petition and ask any clarifying questions they find necessary. The court will let you know when you can have the adoption finalized and get an updated birth certificate for your stepchild with your name on it. A social worker may visit you during and after the adoption process to follow up on how the adoption is affecting your family dynamic.