Although not as complicated and involved as regular adoptions, Step-Parent Adoptions can have a couple of nuances that can affect the smooth completion of the process. It is not always necessary to have an attorney represent a step-parent in these types of cases, but it is helpful in reducing anxiety and solving potential problems.
One of the biggest problems that can arise relates to consent. The consent of the biological parents is required. The parent who is married to the Step-Parent petitioning for adoption must sign the Petition along with the Step-Parent. However, the other parent must also sign. At times, it can be difficult to get the written consent of or even locate that parent. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to petition the Court to terminate that biological parent’s rights within the Petition itself or provide them with what is called Constructive Notice.
The consent of the child to be adopted is also usually required, if the child is at least 12 years old. The child can also decide if he or she wants to change his or her name. If the child is an adult, the child’s spouse may be required to consent.
On other occasions, the paternity of the child’s father may not have been established so the mother may not know who the father is. If she identifies potential fathers, then those fathers may sign affidavits in which they state they have no knowledge as to the paternity of the child and do not object to the adoption. If the mother was married at the time the child was conceived or born, then her husband would have to participate in the proceeding, but would not sign the same affidavit.
Some of these steps are much more difficult to complete without professional help. An attorney experienced in this area of law can resolve issues, point you in the right direction and, ultimately, help bring your family together.