Spouses with children from a previous relationship often adopt each other’s kids. In fact, stepchild adoption is the most common form of adoption in the United States.
When you adopt a stepchild, you become the legal parent of that child. That means you will take on all the same rights and responsibilities that a birth parent would. Likewise, the child’s noncustodial birth parent – meaning the birth parent who does not have custody – gives up those rights and responsibilities. The noncustodial parent is no longer required to pay child support, for example.
The Legal Process of Stepchild Adoption
One of the main requirements of stepchild adoption is getting the consent of both birth parents – your spouse and the noncustodial parent. You will not need the other parent’s consent if the court has already removed his or her parental rights.
If you have decided to adopt your spouse’s child, you’ll need to complete the following general steps:
- Learn about your state laws. Each state has its own laws about stepchild adoption. Some require home studies and criminal background checks, for example, while others do not. Understanding the process ahead will help ensure each step goes smoothly.
- Complete the right documents. You’ll need to submit an adoption petition to the appropriate court in your area. After you have filed the petition, you will need to fill out and submit other documents. The court will also require proof of some of the information you provide.
- Attend the necessary hearing(s). You may need to go before a judge to discuss the adoption and to receive the official order. The court will tell you whether this part applies to you.
Stepchild adoption should be an exciting time for a family. However, the complexities of the process sometimes seem overwhelming. That’s why we’re here.
The attorneys at Petrelli Previtera, LLC know the ins and outs of adoption laws and the process stepparents will need to undertake. We guide clients through each step to avoid any unnecessary obstacles.
Contact Petrelli Previtera, LLC
If you’re planning to officially adopt your stepchild, we can help. We’ll explain the applicable state laws about parental rights and adoption, and we can answer any questions you have. Contact the adoption lawyers at Petrelli Previtera to schedule a consultation.