Stepparent may seek court approval for adoption after they assumed a parenting role. Adoption can occur at any time. But a child over 14 years-old must agree to the adoption.
The spouse and other parent can be divorced or never married. Adoption is permanent and the other parent is relieved from paying child support or other responsibilities. The adopting parent permanently assumes all the rights and responsibilities even if they divorce from their spouse.
Other parent agrees to adoption
The other parent’s parental rights must be terminated. This process is much simpler if the other parent agrees to voluntarily terminate their rights.
That parent must sign the required forms in front of a judge or referee. The court may also ask them questions about their consent.
The other parent does not agree
If the other parent does not consent, the court will schedule an evidentiary hearing. The parent seeking adoption must prove four facts by clear and convincing evidence. First, the parent who is married to the stepparent has sole or joint custody under a court order. Next, the other parent substantially failed to provide financial support for over two years. Third, the other parent substantially failed to visit or contact the child for at least two years. Finally, the other parent had the ability to provide this support and have these contacts.
After the petition is filed, the judge will order an investigation and report. The investigation will cover the stepchild’s family background, information about the stepparent, their spouse, and the stepchild’s other parent. It will also cover whether adoption is in the child’s best interest.
The court will conduct a hearing even if the adoption is not contested. In addition to questioning the other parent about their consent, the court may ask the stepparent and their spouse questions to assure the adoption is in the child’s best interest. The investigation report will also be reviewed.
Completing the proper forms and gathering right evidence is essential. Obtaining legal representation helps assure that you do not surrender your rights and that you can make the best case for adoption.