Posted by Zachary J. Starr, Attorney at Law
Adopting as a Step-Parent
A final adoption hearing may be the only legal proceeding that a person would actually enjoy attending. It is there that a judge formally creates and gives binding legal recognition to a parent-child relationship. It is quite remarkable that even Mother Nature takes a back seat in that circumstance, since our laws and society recognize that DNA cannot substitute for TLC.
When the topic of adoption comes up, many imagine a young couple walking into an adoption agency and filling out forms with the hope of being selected by an expecting mother. But there is another manner in which many adoptions begin: through loving and willing step-parents choosing to take on full rights and responsibilities towards their spouse’s child. Of course, where a biological parent is actively involved in a child’s life both personally and financially, adoption is not likely to be preferred or granted. However, there are some situations in which a biological parent has little contact or contribution to the child’s life and a step-parent has filled that void in both word and deed. A step-parent adoption is available to formally recognize and protect a relationship that otherwise is just as strong and real as one that is biological.
Adoptions are not simple processes that can be lightly addressed. There are numerous legal requirements that must be complied with, and for good reason, both for the protection of biological parent and child.
Generally speaking, a step-parent adoption may occur when the step-parent and child have resided together for at least one year, a few background checks have been completed, and there are legal grounds for terminating the biological parent’s rights. Through an adoption, a child will have the legal advantages of a full transfer of parental rights, the ability to amend a birth certificate and child’s name, and new inheritance rights.
Because each family circumstance is unique and requires careful analysis, consultation with an attorney specializing in adoption law is a necessity. The family lawyers at Dexter & Dexter have handled numerous adoptions and stay current with ever-changing statutes and case law. They are anxious to counsel you and offer their expertise to your family. Call today for a free consultation that will begin the priceless journey to completing your family.