There are many blended families composed of children from prior marriages and relationships. Has the thought crossed your mind about whether to pursue a stepparent adoption? A stepparent adoption is where the child’s custodial parent consents to the child being adopted by the new spouse. Once the adoption is finalized the custodial parent and stepparent will equally be the legal parents of the child.
There are many reasons why you would need to adopt a stepchild. An important reason is that a stepparent adoption provides security and support for blended families. If the custodial parent should die, become incapacitated or even divorce, a stepparent that has not adopted a child would not have legal rights to that child. That may mean the court could award custody to another person, to include, another relative that the child doesn’t even know. Significantly, if a stepparent does not have legal rights to the child, the child could be removed from the home.
In a stepparent adoption, the parental rights of the noncustodial parent will need to be terminated. This can be achieved with the voluntary surrender of parental rights by the noncustodial parent. Or if the noncustodial parent is unwilling to consent, the court will need to terminate the parental rights. The parental rights of the noncustodial parent has to be terminated before a stepparent can adopt, in the state of Georgia.
Once a stepparent adoption is final, there are many benefits, to include:
- The child can now receive health insurance from a stepparent’s employer;
- If a child is sick, a stepparent can consent to medical treatment or even receive time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act;
- If requested within the adoption petition, the child can legally change his/her name to have the same last name as the stepparent; and
- The child can legally inherit from the stepparent.
But the tough reality is that while there are benefits to a stepparent adoption, there are reasons when a stepparent adoption may not be in the best interest. If there are concerns about the health or longevity of your marriage, pause on moving forward. Also, if the noncustodial parent objects and is participating in a meaningful and supportive way in the child’s life, consider whether a stepparent adoption is necessary. A contested adoption can be emotionally damaging to everyone, especially the child.
When moving forward with an adoption, contact an attorney that is experienced and specializes in adoption. Many attorneys will provide a free consultation to help determine if a stepparent adoption is the best legal option for you and your family.
If you have questions about Stepparent Adoptions or other different types of Adoptions, such as, private party adoptions, adult adoptions, foster care adoptions, agency adoptions, interstate adoptions or relative adoptions, contact The Campbell Law Practice, LLC at (404) 981-5257 for a free initial consultation.
This update has been prepared by The Campbell Law Practice, LLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.