Becoming a legal parent is one of the more beautiful gifts you can give to a child who is not biologically yours. Adopting your spouse’s child may also be beneficial to you, of course. Still, because adoption is a legal court proceeding that transfers parental rights to you, you may want to have an experienced attorney on your side.
There are many potential problems that may arise during a stepchild adoption. Your attorney may help to avoid some of these while formulating solutions for others. At a minimum, a knowledgeable family lawyer can answer the questions you have about the adoption process.
What rights does stepchild adoption give you?
As your stepchild’s biological parent, your spouse enjoys the same rights and responsibilities as all other parents in the Mountain State. If a judge approves your adoption request, you also assume these rights. A successful adoption makes both you and your spouse the legal parents of your stepchild. Meanwhile, the child’s other biological parent loses his or her custody and visitation rights permanently.
Does the other parent have to agree?
While your spouse must be willing to allow you to adopt your stepchild, the child’s other biological parent must usually also agree with the adoption. If a court has terminated parental rights because of abuse or neglect, though, you probably do not need to obtain consent. The same may be true if the child’s biological parent has abandoned his or her parental rights.
Even an out-of-the-picture biological picture may be reluctant to consent to your adoption. Ultimately, if that happens with your family, your attorney may have some strategies for securing his or her agreement or otherwise moving forward with the adoption process.