Hiring a Family Law Attorney When Adopting a Child

The Brighter Side Of The Law: A Closer Look At Stepchild Adoptions

by Jamie Nichols

When people think about the need to hire a lawyer they tend to think about having legal troubles. However, there are many different types of cases that fall under the jurisdiction of family law that are often quite positive in nature. One example of this is the issue of stepchild adoption. Through these legal proceedings, the court is able to help stepparents establish the same legal rights as biological parents by allowing them to adopt their stepchildren. If you are considering this type of adoption, there are a few things that you should know about this process before moving forward.

The Noncustodial Parent Will Need To Agree

The court system is only set up to recognize the legal parental rights of two parents. Therefore, before a stepchild adoption can take place, the noncustodial parent will need to sign a voluntary waiver of their parental rights. If the child's noncustodial parent does not agree to sign this waiver or is unable to be located, you will need to demonstrate to the court that there is sufficient cause for the court to involuntarily terminate their parental rights. This can be a complex process and will often require the assistance of a family law firm.

The Child's Consent May Be Required

Depending upon the age of your stepchild at the time the adoption takes place they may be required to consent to the adoption. Laws regarding the age at which a child's consent is required will vary from state to state, so you will want to consult with a qualified attorney regarding the laws in your local area. Even if the child's consent is not directly required, the judge will likely request that a guardian ad litem is appointed. This is a lawyer who is appointed to represent the child rather than the parents. The guardian ad litem will interview the child, assuming they are old enough to communicate. Therefore it is always best to discuss the entire process with your stepchild before filing for adoption even if their consent is not legally required.

Adoption Is For Life

When you choose to adopt your stepchild, this is a decision that lasts the rest of your life even if your marriage does not. This means that you will be be expected to provide physical, mental, emotional, and financial support for the child until adulthood even if you and their biological parent choose to separate or divorce. This is an extremely important factor to consider before choosing to move forward with your decision to seek a stepchild adoption.

To learn more about stepchild adoption or to start the process of adopting your stepchild, it is always best to seek the legal advice of a reputable family law firm in your local area.