There are many reasons a stepparent may wish to adopt the child of their spouse. That stepparent often “becomes” a de facto parent on many levels – financially, emotionally, socially, spiritually and morally. However, without formalizing the relationship between stepparent and stepchild into that of parent/child through the legal process of adoption, many intended benefits of the relationship may not come about. A strong example of this is that a step-child does not automatically inherit anything from a stepparent upon their death.
Stepparent adoption is most simply achieved when the non-custodial parent consents to the adoption and relinquishes their parental rights, thus paving the way for the stepparent to become the legal parent. If the non-custodial parent’s location is unknown or if they are unwilling to consent to stepparent adoption, there are still ways to accomplish your goal. Demonstrating to the Court that the non-custodial parent fails to pay child support or have meaningful contact with the child for the period of one year (or more) is one way. Harmful misconduct by the non-custodial parent, such as molestation, is another grounds for having the Court terminate the non-custodial parent’s rights.
Contact the Law Offices of David M. Lawler, Inc. to schedule an appointment and discuss your facts and circumstances concerning stepparent adoptions.