Stepparents can be an important part of a child’s life, and they often desire a legally recognized bond. It is possible for stepparents to adopt their children, but the process can mean challenges that traditional adoptions don’t have. As a stepparent, you may be looking forward to ringing in the New Year with your new family, and our Oklahoma City family law attorneys can help you make the formal acknowledgement of your commitment to your step-children.
The Stepparent Adoption Process
Unlike the normal adoption process, the stepparent adoption process can be fairly streamlined. It is likely that you will not need to go through a waiting period, home study, or even an adoption hearing. The most difficult part is often gaining consent from the other parent.
In order to be eligible for a stepparent adoption, or related adoption, you must demonstrate that you have been married to the child’s parent for at least one year. Both parents must consent to the adoption, and the other parent will need to relinquish their parental rights. It can be challenging to complete this step if the other parent is unwilling to consent or cannot be contacted.
If the other parent cannot be found or refuses to consent to the adoption, there may still be hope. It may be possible to have their parental rights terminated if it can be demonstrated that they abandoned the child, failed to maintain a positive relationship with the child in the past year, or haven’t fulfilled their legal obligations to the child.
If you hope to adopt your stepchild, it is important to gain consent from the child’s other parent. When consent is given, the other parent must acknowledge that they are giving up their parental rights to the child. This can be a scary and uncomfortable process for many parents, so it is understandable if they are reluctant to do so. The impact of the adoption on the child must also be considered. If there is little contact between the child and the other parent, the adoption may be seen as a positive change. If the parent and the child are close, however, a stepparent adoption may be considered as harmful to the child’s wellbeing.
Many families form an agreement that allows the other parent to maintain contact with the child in exchange for consent. If possible, discuss your options with both parents of the child and your family law attorney.
Terminating Parental Rights
If you cannot gain consent, your lawyer can help you understand your other options. It is possible that you may still be able to adopt your stepchild by proving that the other parent is absent.
If the other parent has not exercised their parental rights or has not been in contact with the child, you may be able to prove abandonment. If the parent has willfully failed to support the child or see the child for at least a year, the court may consider the child abandoned and allow you to move forward with your adoption.
You may also be able to prove that the absent parent is not the presumed father, if the mother isn’t the abandoning parent. Your attorney can help you determine if the other parent would be presumed to be the father, or if you can disprove their claim to the child. If you are able to demonstrate that the father doesn’t meet the requirements of a presumed father, you won’t need to gain their consent or demonstrate abandonment.
Get Help From Our Oklahoma City Family Law Attorneys – (405) 414-2222
Let the Mazaheri Law Firm help you receive legal recognition of your relationship with your stepchild. We have decades of collective experience to draw from as we find the best possible legal solutions to this challenging process. Our Oklahoma City family lawyers understand the deep bonds stepparents and their step-children can share, which is why we are committed to helping your family start off the New Year with a brand new adoption.
Schedule a consultation today by calling (405) 414-2222.