Stepparents often assume a substantial role in a child’s life. Indeed, there may be an incredible bond between a stepparent and child, and that child may relate to, and consider, his or her stepparent a “Father” or “Mother,” despite the lack of a genetic connection.
Despite how strong the connection may be, the legal requirements to formally adopt a stepchild are rather strict, especially if the biological parent’s rights have not been terminated by a court or a parent refuses to voluntarily relinquish his or her rights. In these situations, a stepparent can only adopt a stepchild if the other birth parent has abandoned the child for a period of one year or more, or if the other birth parent has failed, without cause, to provide reasonable support for such child for a period of one year or more. The adoption also has to be in the child’s best interest.
Regardless of the situation, a stepparent adoption case will be highly emotional. A stepparent, or biological parent if he or she disagrees with the stepparent’s desires to adopt his or her child, should seek the guidance of a seasoned attorney to best protect his or her rights to ensure that the child will forever have a safe, secure and loving home. Sauer & Petterson Family Law has handled highly charged, complex stepparent adoption cases and can assist you in achieving the best possible outcome.