Often, after the parent of a child marries or remarries, the new spouse may desire to adopt the child. Still, the adoption process may seem foreign, especially since many people have had little interaction with adoption law. Here are a few questions and answers about adoption law as it pertains to stepparents.
Is the adoption process governed by federal laws?
The adoption process for stepparents is governed by state laws. These state-mandated regulations determine the requirements that must be met before a stepparent can complete an adoption. Some states may require a background check, but other requirements, such as the need for a home study, may be more relaxed for stepparents.
Does it matter how long a stepparent is married to the child's natural parent?
The amount of time that a state requires a stepparent to have been married to the natural parent can vary. Some states may require the marriage to have been in place for a year or more. There may also be requirements for the amount of time that the stepparent has lived with the child.
Can the child still receive support from their other natural parent?
Any support received from the child's other natural parent is voluntary. Once the adoption is approved, the other natural parent relinquishes all rights and obligations to the adopted child. Even in the event that the other natural parent dies, in many states, the child will not be an automatic recipient of the ex-parent's estate. The child is frequently only an eligible beneficiary if he or she has been designated as such in the official will of the former parent.
Does the other natural parent have to consent to the adoption?
In most cases, the other natural parent must give consent prior to the adoption. Some states may require the parent to appear in court to offer consent. Other states may only require a written declaration of release. In instances in which the other parent has abandoned the child, consent of the abandoning parent may not be required, but it is desired. An adoption may be overturned if every effort is not made to obtain appropriate consent or if a fraudulent consent is presented.
Obtaining consent can be complicated. Some states even consider a specified period of lack of contact with a child as consent. To navigate the adoption process properly, it is best for stepparents to obtain legal counsel.
If you are a stepparent who is considering adoption, schedule a consultation with an adoption attorney in your local area, such as Law Offices of Lynda Latta, LLC.