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Stepparent Adoption in New York

Greenberg & Greenberg April 5, 2013

Boy kissing woman on the nose

Are you looking to adopt your spouse's child as your own? Stepparent adoption, also known as "relative adoption," is actually a simpler process in comparison with other types of adoption because some steps can be skipped altogether. With this particular type of adoption, you will not have a waiting period or home study period because the child already lives with you. The only major obstacle however, would be getting the birth parent to consent to the adoption. The permission of the other birth parent is required with stepparent adoptions and if they refuse, then the adoption may not be permitted. The only exemption to this would be if the birth parent was to lose their parental rights for some reason, such as being unfit, abandoning the child or is unable to support the child.

When the birth parent gives their consent to the adoption they are essentially give up all parent rights to the child. This includes visitation rights, custody rights and the right to make legal decisions on the child's behalf. Usually the only enticement for a birth parent to consent to stepparent adoption is because it is in the best interests of the child or because it means that they will no longer be required to pay child support. Stepparent adoption makes more sense if the birth parent is not actively involved in the child's life. This way by preceding with the adoption you can create more of a family unit.

What if The Birth Parent Refuses to Give Their Consent?

If the other birth parent is out of the picture or is simply refusing to give their consent, there are sometimes ways around it. If you are able to prove that the parent has either abandoned the child or that the absent parent is not the presumed father then you may be able to proceed with the adoption. Proving abandonment is not always easy, you will need to demonstrate that the absent parent has not been in contact with the child and has not exercised their parent rights in any way. If the birth parent has abandoned the child for a certain period time, typically up to a year, and they have not been supporting the child financially, then you may be able to prove abandonment for your case.

Another way around the birth parent consent requirement is to prove that the absent parent is not legally the presumed father. In most states, by law if a man and woman are married when the mother gives birth, then the husband is presumed to be the child's father. Becoming the presumed legal father can also be done by marrying the mother even after the child is born and being the legal father listed on the child's birth certificate. By proving that the birth parent is not the presumed father of the child, the court may decide to terminate their parent rights and you will be able to proceed with the adoption without their consent.

Stepparent Adoption with Same-Sex Partners

The state of New York does allow for same-sex couple adoption. If you are looking to adopt the child of your partner, you can use stepparent procedures in order to gain legal parent rights over the child.

If you are looking to streamline the stepparent adoption process and obtain legal parental rights over you're your spouse's child, then speak with a New York adoption attorney at Greenberg & Greenberg today. We have extensive experience handling stepparent adoptions and we can help guide you every step of the way. Contact a New York stepparent adoption attorney from our firm today to learn more!