Reasons for Stepparent Adoption
As a stepparent, you may be fulfilling many—if not all—parental duties in regards to your stepchild. However, simply loving them as your own does not instill a legal relationship. Your rights when it comes to your stepchild’s future are entirely dependent on their legal parent(s) consenting to a relationship. In fact, more distant relatives of your stepchild have stronger rights to custody than you.
Legally adopting your stepchild ensures they will have a sense of security in the event their legal parent can no longer care for them. Your legally adopted stepchild will also grant them the right to inherit from you (even without a provision in your will). Most importantly, permanently adopting your stepchild will seal the familial bond you’ve created.
Stepparent Adoption Requirements
If you are a stepparent hoping to adopt your spouse's child, our New York adoption lawyers are prepared to help guide you through the process swiftly and successfully. Stepparent adoptions ensure that an adoptive stepparent will have the same rights and responsibilities as the birth parent. There are specific requirements that must be fulfilled prior to beginning a stepparent adoption.
If a child's birth parent is still living and is no longer involved in the child's life, then they must consent to the proposed stepparent adoption. Once the stepparent adoption is completed, the parent giving up custody of the child is then released from all legal and financial obligations to that child.
One of the most important hurdles you might have to face during a stepparent adoption is obtaining the consent of the non-involved parent who has shown little interest in the child and, in some cases, may be difficult to locate. In the event that the other biological parent does not relinquish their rights, there is an alternative option. The court must find that the consent of the other biological parent is not required because that person does not have a legally recognized relationship with the child.