If you are a stepparent considering adoption of a step-child, the first thing you should do is consult with an experienced step-parent adoption attorney. Even if the adoptee’s parent has not been involved, steps must be taken to terminate parental rights before proceeding with the adoption. If a parent is no longer involved with the child for six (6) months or longer, the natural parent and stepparent may petition for termination of the other’s parental rights and adoption. However, the complexity of the case will all depend on cooperation from the natural parent.
A parent’ rights can be terminated voluntarily or involuntary. If a natural parent consents to termination of parental rights in writing, they have thirty (30) days to revoke their consent. If the parent does not consent, then a petition to involuntarily terminate parental rights must be filed and the court will schedule a hearing to take testimony to determine if the parent’s rights should be terminated.
The adoptee’s consent to the adoption is required if the child is over 12 years of age. Consent of the spouse of the adopting parent is required unless he or she joins in the adoption petition. There are other circumstances in which consent is required.
Step-parent adoptions can be tricky so it is important that you work with an experienced lawyer who understands the procedures and laws to guide you through the process.