Do you remember as a child winding and twisting your way through a maze of some sort? As you are winding your way around, you find a wall, turn around and try another way. Regardless of the maze, you always have a beginning and an end, but the path getting from one point to the next will always be different depending on the maze. Stepparent adoptions are much the same. Stepparent adoptions will have a starting point and a finishing point but the core circumstances will differ with each case. Understanding the requirements needed to complete an adoption of any sort is important, but stepparent adoptions can be complicate when the biological non-custodial parent is still alive and in contact with the child(ren).
The adoption process for stepparents can vary drastically. This is truly one of the type of case where one is never the exact same as another. While the nuts and bolts of stepparent adoption are the same from case to case, the process can take many twist and turns before getting to the finish line.
If you are the person your stepchild considers to be a parent then you may wish to solidify your legal rights. Attorney Doug Dreyer supports blending families and protecting parent-child relationship through stepparent adoptions. As a non-adoptive stepparent, you have no legal parental rights. If your spouse became incapacitated, died, or you divorced, the court could award custody of your stepchild to anyone—possibly a relative who has not ever been part of his or her life. Through stepparent adoption a legal relationship is established with a child that will become identical to that of birth parent and child.
In a stepparent adoption, one biological parent has parental rights, but the other parent does not have a stable parent-child relationship or no parent-child relationship at all. Stepparent adoption is the transfer of legal and parental rights from a biological parent to the stepparent. The adoption is not terminated if the stepparent and biological parent divorce. In order to proceed with a stepparent adoption, several legal requirements must be met. This is where the proverbial “water” gets a little muddy and you definitely need an experienced attorney to guide you through the adoption maze.