As time goes on, it is typically natural for a stepparent to want to adopt their stepchildren, or vice versa. The sentiment is truly touching, but it must be recognized as a huge step in their unique relationship. Not only will it bring major lifestyle changes but it will also involve a complex legal procedure.
Before you decide to file for the adoption of a stepchild, here are a few things you should consider:
- Everyone’s feelings: First things first, how does everyone feel about stepparent adoption? This is not a process you can complete on your own, nor is it one that only affects you. Make certain you have taken the time to sit down with your spouse, your stepchild, and also any other children you might have and get their thoughts and feelings about the matter. You will certainly have more confidence and hopefulness about the future procedures if you do.
- Permissions: In most situations, you cannot complete a stepparent adoption without first gaining consent or legal permission from your stepchild’s other parent. By gaining this permission, the other parent surrenders parental rights, which is a decision they might not initially be comfortable with. The only times you do not need consent from the other parent is if they have passed away or if a court has removed their parental rights, such as in cases of abandonment or domestic violence.
- Legal process: Knowing what to expect of the legal stepparent adoption process ahead of time can help you get through it if or when you do decide to begin in. You will need to start with a petition to adopt, which tells the court of your intention to adopt your stepchild. No matter how smoothly the entire process goes, you will need to go to court at least once to officially announce adoption intentions, answer any questions the judge may have, and conclude the adoption. Afterwards, you will also need to update and renew your stepchild’s birth certificate.
- Home study: After your petition to adopt and before your court hearing, you may be subject to a home study. It often falls upon the Department of Social Services to complete such home studies, which are meant to look for any telltale signs that you are not fit to adopt the child, like living in squalor.
Think you are ready to begin down the path of stepparent adoption? You do not need to go it alone. Team up with Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich, a trusted Riverside County family law firm with 50+ years of collective legal experience. Your adoption case will move along much more smoothly with the firm’s guidance and representation, allowing you to rest, relax, and look forward to a bright future with your stepchild.
Start today with a free initial consultation by calling 951.687.6003.