Taking the Right Steps in Your Stepparent Adoption

The stepparent label is indeed a badge of honor. As we all know a stepparent is one who voluntarily undertakes one of the most important and influential roles in a child’s life, the role of a parent. Whether stepping in for an absentee parent or supplementing an already established parental bond, stepparents are an integral part of the nuclear family. So it is no surprise that stepparent adoptions make up a significant portion of adoption filings in Georgia. But why are stepparent adoptions in such high demand? What benefit can it offer the child? The family? Why not have an informal understanding that the stepparent has the same parental and custodial rights as those held by his/her spouse? Follow the steps below to understand these questions and more:

STEP ONE-EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT ADOPTION

A stepparent adoption formalizes the parental bond between a stepparent and child. Many families pursue this form of adoption because an established parental bond brings with it many advantages that benefit the child. For example, after a stepparent adoption, the adopted child is capable of inheriting from that stepparent just as if the child were the stepparent’s biological seed. The stepparent adoption solidifies parental and custodial rights for the adopted child, rights which can only be terminated by a court of law. If an estranged parent attempted to obtain custody upon the unfortunate passing of the other parent he/she will be unable to proceed with a custody action. Additionally, a stepparent adoption can affect employment or government classifications pertaining to the parent’s tax filing status, military benefits, health insurance, social security, etc.

STEP TWO-TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

During a stepparent adoption, a court must first terminate the parental rights of the non-custodial biological parent. The biological parent can consent to termination by voluntarily surrendering his/her parental rights in writing. However, if the biological parent does not agree, the court must hold a hearing to determine whether the non-custodial parent’s rights should be terminated.

STEP THREE- PETITION FOR ADOPTION

To file the petition for adoption, the stepparent must have the written consent of his/her spouse. In addition, if a child is 14 years or older, that child must also consent to the adoption in writing. Ultimately, the Court must determine whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child before issuing an adoption decree.

This type of case has a high standard. The petitioner must establish the requirements by clear and convincing evidence. It relies heavily on testimonial and direct evidence. It is not recommended to pursue this type of action without proper counsel. To receive more information on this subject or to schedule a consultation regarding your stepparent adoption, please contact B Bullard Law firm today at 678-432-1100 or by email at info@mcguirebullard.com. Our firm has the knowledge and resources to assist you and your unique needs.

Law Offices of McGuire & Bullard

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