A child’s relationship with a stepparent may grow stronger than with the child’s noncustodial parent
and the parties might consider stepparent adoption. Through adoption, the biological parent’s spouse (the stepparent) becomes the child’s parent. The other biological parent loses all rig
hts to and ongoing responsibility for the child – the adopting parent acquires these rights and responsibilities. Below are a few of the basic requirements for a stepparent adoption.
- Legal Marriage or Domestic Partnership. The biological parent and the adopting parent must be legally married or in a domestic partnership. If not, the parents may still be able to pursue a “second parent adoption,” but that is a more complicated process.
- Age of Adopting Parent. The adopting parent must be at least 18 years old and at least 10 years older than the child. The latter requirement may be waived in some circumstances.
- Consent of Biological Parent/Spouse. The biological parent – the adopting parent’s spouse or domestic partner – must consent to the adoption.
- Consent of Other Biological Parent. The child’s other biological parent must consent to the adoption. The adoption may still proceed without the other parent’s consent, but the adoption will not proceed as an Uncontested Adoption. The procedure will differ (e.g., Willful Failure, Abandonment, Termination of Alleged Parental Rights), depending on the circumstances.
- Child’s Consent. If the child is 12 years or older, the child must also consent to the adoption.
The adoption process involves a number of forms, the submission of official records, an investigation, and a court hearing. You should seek legal representation to ensure that the process goes smoothly.