When most people think of adoptions, they picture a couple adopting a child from his or her birth mother. However, stepparent adoptions are actually believed to be the most common form of adoption in the United States.
Stepparent adoptions commonly occur when one biological parent is no longer in the life of the child/children, and the parent with custody gets remarried. The stepparent may play a large role in the child’s life and desire to “make it official” by adopting the child. Once the stepparent adopts the child, the child is considered the child of the stepparent, and, therefore, the child has the same legal rights a biological child would have, such as inheritance rights, and parental support.
In Texas, when a stepparent wants to adopt a stepchild, the stepparent files a petition with the court to adopt the stepchild. In order for the adoption to occur, the legal rights of the other parent must be terminated. A parent’s legal rights can be terminated fairly easily if the parent agrees. This may be done in order to avoid future child support payments (however, any unpaid prior child support payments would still remain due unless released from obligation by the parent to whom they are owed).
If the other parent does not agree, the court can choose to terminate parental rights if legal grounds exist, such as abandonment, failure to support, or abuse. Once parental rights are terminated, that parent loses all rights to the child, including the right to visit with the child or make decisions for the child. Once the petition is filed and the parental rights are terminated, the court will order a home study. Finally, there will be a court appearance where the court may grant the adoption.
As you may imagine, the most difficult part of many stepparent adoptions is the termination of parental rights. Although a parent may not be involved in their child’s life at all, they may not want to give up their legal rights to the child, or the parent may be unable to be located.
Mr. Youngberg can help guide your family through this often difficult process. It is Mr. Youngberg’s goal to complete this process in the most efficient manner possible while taking into account the unique circumstances of your family.