Stepparent adoptions can be complex proceedings. Courts generally try to preserve the biological parent-child relationship. However, when this is not in the best interest of the child, stepparent adoptions are allowed. Each stepparent adoption has two parts. The first involves an effort to “terminate” the rights of one of the biological parent and the adoption itself. A voluntary verses contested termination can make a large impact on the difficulty and expense of the case.
Voluntary Consent to Terminate
In order for the stepparent to be able to adopt the child, the legal relationship between a child and a biological parent has to be forfeited. If the forfeiting parent is agreeable to the termination and adoption of the child, they may voluntarily agree to the proceeding. The terminating parent must sign a court pleading outlining their permission to terminate. Once the document has been signed, there is a fourteen-day “cool-off” period. The terminating party can rescind their consent if within the fourteen-day window. Once the period has passed, parties can petition the court for the adoption of the child.
If the other biological parent is not agreeable to terminating their rights, the process begins as a contested adoption. This process entails petitioning the court for an involuntary termination. In general, courts will look for the following circumstances when deciding to involuntarily terminate parental parents rights, including:
- Abandonment of the child,
- Failure to meet the support obligations without good reason, and
- Inability to appropriately care for the child’s needs physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The courts want to ensure that the termination would be in the best interest of the child. They will also want to ensure that another individual, like a stepparent, is willing to legally provide the child with support.
Whether you anticipate a voluntary or contested termination, our stepparent adoption attorneys are ready to assist. Our lawyers will answer your questions and create the best strategy for your unique case. To reach our firm, contact our office by phone at (763) 323-6555 or submit an online inquiry request through our website.