A new partner can only adopt a divorced party’s child if the divorced party, who is the custodial parent, agrees and the other legal parent gives up their parental rights. The act of giving up parental rights is called termination of parental rights. A new partner cannot become the legal parent of a divorced person’s child simply because they marry the divorced person. In addition, the new partner must be over the age of 19. If the child is 14 or older, the child must consent to the stepparent adoption by the new partner.
Additional requirements for the new partner include:
- if the new partner is married to the divorced party, the marriage must be of at least three years duration.
- if the divorced party and the new partner are married, at least one person of the couple must be a U.S. citizen.
- together, the couple must have adequate housing and personal space for the child to be adopted.
- the new partner must be healthy enough to meet the child’s needs.
- the new partner must be willing to undergo a thorough background check, including criminal history.
Alabama has a residency requirement for stepchild adoption. The child must reside with the stepparent for at least one year before the adoption. The court can waive the requirement for good reason.
If the parent not dating or married to the new partner refuses to consent to the adoption in Morgan County, the adoption can still proceed. This can occur if that parent:
- abandons the child.
- leaves the child without provision for their identification for 30 days.
- leaves the child with others without provisions for support and without communication, or otherwise not maintaining a significant parental relationship with the child for six months.
- has received notification of the adoption proceeding and fails to answer or otherwise respond to the petition within 30 days.
A parent is allowed to withdraw their consent to adoption or relinquishment of the child for any reason five days after the birth of the child or five days after the signing of the consent or relinquishment, whichever occurs later. The time for withdrawal can be lengthened to 14 days if the court finds that the delay is reasonable under the circumstances and in the best interest of the child.
A home study by the Alabama Department of Human Resources is generally not required when a stepparent wants to adopt. When you remarry after a divorce in Jefferson County, and your new spouse wants to adopt, then it can be simple.
The new partner who wants to adopt the child must file a petition for adoption in probate court. They can file the petition in the probate court of the county where the minor resides, where the petitioner resides or is in military service, or where the office of the agency or institution that has guardianship or custody of the minor is located.
A case may be transferred to juvenile court for a limited purpose of termination of parental rights. If the adoption is contested, either the legal parent or the court may move the probate court to transfer the case to juvenile court for a hearing. The transfer is discretionary. At the contested hearing, the court will determine whether the adoption is in the best interest of the child, the requirements of the state have been fulfilled, and all required consents and relinquishments have been obtained and not withdrawn.
After the hearing, which may be continued to allow further discovery or investigation, the court will decide to dismiss the adoption proceeding or deny the contest. When a court denies a contest, it will order the contestant to pay all the legal costs that the petitioners incurred.
An appeal from a final decree of adoption must be filed in the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals within 14 days of the decree. The appellate court is required to prioritize such appeals over other cases.
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!