Stepparent adoption is a process by which the stepparent adopts their partner’s child. When this process is finalized, the child will receive a new birth certificate with the adoptive parent’s name replacing the other parent, and if they so desire, they will take that parent’s last name. This type of adoption makes a formal legal recognition of the parent child relationship and grants the same types of legal rights and protections as biological parents and children have.
Stepparents and their children can share a strong bond, to the point where they view themselves as being a part of a core family unit. This is the reason why stepparent adoption is the most common form of adoption. Some of the benefits of adoption are that it grants the child with a stronger sense of belonging and stability. Additionally, it grants the stepparent the ability to have a more active role in the decision-making process of raising the child. Finally, it ensures the legal rights in the matter of death for either parent, whether it is retaining custody when the biological parent dies, or the right of the child to an inheritance from the stepparent.
For stepparent adoptions in Birmingham, the adoption effectively ends the legal relationship between the child and one of their biological parents. This is where court involvement comes into play. To end the legal relationship between parent and child, the parent must be served with a Petition for Adoption, and the new parental unit must obtain consent from the other parent, or more dramatically, terminate the other parent’s parental rights prior to the adoption. There are a few exceptions and work arounds for these requirements, such as:
- When the other natural parent is deceased
- The natural parent’s parental rights have been terminated prior to the adoption process
- When the natural parent has been deemed incompetent by a court, and thus unable to give informed consent
- When the parent whose rights are to be terminated is a natural father and has denied paternity in writing
- When the natural parent has given up their rights to the Department of Human Resources or a licensed adoption agency
- When the natural father is unknown to the mother
- When the natural parent abandons their child
- In Alabama abandonment means withholding financial or emotional support for a period of six months
If the other parent will not consent, or if you cannot locate them, you can receive assistance from the court. Since family courts prioritize the health and wellbeing of children, if you can make the case that stepparent adoption in Jefferson County is in the best interest of your child then you are more likely to be successful. At the same time, the burden of proof is fairly high, since the non-consensual termination of parental rights is an extreme decision for courts to make.
Stepparent adoptions can be fairly straightforward, but if you are having difficulties with the other parent giving consent to you and your partner, or if you are finding the adoption process to be too complicated, you should seek out the assistance of an experienced adoption attorney in Shelby County, Alabama.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, probate, and real estate closings on this website. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply feedback. We appreciate our readers & love to hear from you!