No longer an anomaly, blended families are becoming increasingly common in today’s society. In many households, the stepparent is more involved with a child’s life than the biological parent. He or she may even develop a stronger bond with the child. This is why it’s not uncommon for some stepparents to speak to their family law attorney about adopting their stepchildren. Here’s what you need to know if you are considering adopting your stepchild.
Should I adopt my stepchild?
Adopting your stepchild may seem like a natural choice, especially when the biological parent is not as present. For some, it’s more ceremonial and a way to solidify the commitment to their blended family. It’s also a way of establishing legal rights for both the stepparent and stepchild. Speak with your family law attorney about the advantages of adopting your stepchild, which include:
- Adoption can establish a sense of love, security and belonging between the stepparent and child.
- Adoption gives you the legal ability to make decisions regarding the child’s education, medical care,
religion and other important issues.
- Adoption allows you to keep parental rights in the event of a divorce.
- Adoption helps protect your child from legal issues concerning an inheritance.
- When shared biological children are also in the home, adoption gives equal status to all children.
- In the event that your partner dies, adoption ensures that you keep parental rights of the child.
There are also times when adoption may not be in the best interest of your family. If the biological parent objects and is still involved in the child’s life, it can cause confusion and angst. It’s also vitally important to consider the longevity of your relationship with your partner. Adoption is permanent, and if you separate or divorce from your partner you will still have all of the legal and financial responsibilities to the child.
What about the biological parent?
The legal consent of the other biological parent is required in a stepparent adoption. There are some exceptions, for example if the biological parent is deceased. You also won’t need consent if the biological parent has had his or her parental rights terminated due to issues like neglect or abuse.
In some cases, obtaining consent from the biological parent can be difficult. Often the biological parent does not want to give up their parental rights. This is typically the case when they still have a healthy relationship with the child and are contributing to their life. But sometimes, the other birth parent will realize that a stepparent adoption would be in the child’s best interest.
If you’re having difficulty getting consent from a biological parent, an experienced family law attorney can pursue a few different options. They can seek to have the parental rights terminated if there are ways to legally prove abandonment or unfitness. Additionally, proving that a presumed birth father is not actually the father will terminate his rights.
Family Law Attorney in Jacksonville
Adopting your stepchild can be a very rewarding experience. It’s also a permanent decision that should be made with careful consideration. The family law attorneys at Parker & DuFresne have the experience and dedication to make this process easier for your family. Contact us at (904) 733-7766
to see how we can help.