What is Step Parent Adoption?

Step parent adoption is possible when you marry someone that has children that they bring into the marriage. There are certain conditions that apply though before you can do this. For example if the other biological parent is still a part of their lives and doesn’t wish to terminate his or her rights then it isn’t possible. When you do commit to step parent adoption though you are making a decision that will affect you for the rest of your life.

In some states, a couple has to be married for a certain period of time before a petition to the courts can be made for such an adoption. Many areas also require what is called a home study to be conducted as well. This involves a professional coming to the home to observe what is taking place there. They will also have plenty of questions for both of the adults. Children that are of a certain age may be questioned too in order to get a clear picture of the living arrangement that is in place for that household.

Not all requests for step parent adoption are immediately granted. The courts may need to attempt to track down the biological parent to get their consent. There is usually a time frame for this and if they don’t respond then their rights can be terminated by the courts. In some states if the step parent has a criminal history they won’t be allowed to adopt the children no matter how long the marriage has been in place.

It is important to find an attorney that specializes in adoption and that understands the laws for this form of it. That way they can guide you through the process step by step. It can take a long time from when the petition is submitted for the decision to get made by the courts. Your attorney can help you speed up the process by making sure that all of the forms are completed properly and submitted to the right agency.

There will be a hearing set in most instances after all of the forms have been submitted. The judge has the right to ask questions of anyone that comes to that hearing concerning step parent adoption. Many often ask older children if this is something they wish to see occur for their family or not. Another hearing may be set at the end of that one if they feel more information is needed to make a final decision.

In many instances the last names of children involved in step parent adoption are changed if there is a male adopting them. This isn’t always the case though and the children can keep their previous last names if that is the wish of the family. In order to change them though legal documentation has to be submitted. Then new birth certificates and social security cards can be issued in the new name.

Should the marriage not work out, you can still have a part in the lives of these children. You may even be required by law to pay child support for them even though you aren’t a biological parent. It is important to find out about all of these types of conditions for the area where you live. While no one wants to think that their marriage won’t work you do need to understand what your legal responsibilities will be should it end.

There are many advantages to step parent adoption though that certainly outweigh those types of concerns. Should something happen to the natural parent that you are married to that results in death, you will have the legal right to keep those children. You don’t have to worry that you will lose them as well. You can also add them to benefits you have including medical and dental coverage through an employer. Make sure you learn all there is about step parent adoption before you involve yourself in it.