The bond between a stepparent and their stepchild can be just as important as the bond between biological parents and their children. Unfortunately, while society may recognize this bond, the law does not. This is why so many stepparents are now choosing to file for a stepparent adoption in order to ensure that both them and their stepchildren enjoy all of the legal rights that are given to biological parents. If you are considering a stepparent adoption, there are a few facts that you should know before moving forward with this process.
Both Biological Parents Must Provide Consent
Many blended families make the mistake of believing that as long as the child's custodial parent consents to the adoption, the absent parent will not be able to contest it. However, the law requires that both biological parents provide their consent in order for a stepparent adoption to be finalized. This is true even in cases where the absent parent has had no contact with the child for several years.
In the event that the absent parent will not provide their consent, you can attempt to have their parental rights involuntarily terminated. However, you will be charged with the task of proving to the court that revoking these rights is in the child's best interest independently from your adoption case. What this means is that even if you were not going to adopt the child, the child would be better off without the absent parent as part of their life. Meeting this burden of proof can be extremely difficult. Therefore, it is always best to consult an adoption attorney before attempting this feat.
The Child's Consent May Also Be Required
Depending upon the age of the child at the time the adoption is finalized, the child may also be required to provide their consent. In most states, the age at which consent will be required is twelve, however, it is always best to check with a local attorney in order to verify the age of consent in your area.
While obtaining the child's consent may only be required in some cases, the child's desire to be adopted can weigh heavily upon the judge's final decision in all cases. This is especially true in cases where the child informs the court that they do not wish to be adopted by their stepparent. Since the court's primary responsibility is the best interest of the child, any opposition from your stepchild could result in your adoption petition being denied.
You Will Be Required To Demonstrate Stability Independently From Your Spouse
Like all adoptions, stepparent adoptions will outlive a divorce. Consequently, the court must ensure that you are prepared to care for all of the child's needs, even if your marriage does not last forever. This is done by requiring you to demonstrate your financial, physical, and emotional stability to the court. In many cases, you will be required to undergo a physiological evaluation and present the court with proof of gainful employment. If your own stability is currently dependent upon the stability of your spouse, you may be required to rectify this situation before your adoption petition will be granted.
For more information about adoptions, contact A Child's Dream or a similar organization.