Blended families can be a blessing to all involved. There’s more love to go around when a child is loved by biological parent(s) and stepparents. Sometimes a stepparent has truly taken on the role of parent and wants to solidify his or her relationship with the stepchild legally through adoption. Stepparent adoption can be an option in some circumstances. A stepparent adoption can be a viable option if the other biological parent is not involved in the child’s life and either consents or has their parental rights terminated. Below we answer some common questions regarding stepparent adoptions. If you have more questions about your specific situation, please reach out to schedule a consultation.
Can my spouse adopt my child from a previous relationship?
Your spouse and the child’s stepparent may be eligible to adopt your child from a prior relationship if:
What do we need from the child’s other biological parent to proceed with a stepparent adoption?
The child’s other biological parent must either:
If there is not sufficient evidence to terminate parental rights and the other biological parent will not consent, then the stepparent will not be able to adopt the child.
What consents are needed to move forward with a stepparent adoption?
What kind of assessment or home study is required for a stepparent adoption?
A Report to the Court may be necessary in certain stepparent adoptions. A Report to the Court is a report or assessment completed by the Department of Social Services or other agency to assist the court in determining if the proposed adoption is in the child’s best interest.
In stepparent adoptions, a Report to the Court:
Will the child’s other biological parent still owe child support for the adoptee?
If the child is adopted by the stepparent, the child’s other biological parent will not owe any future child support obligation. The child’s other biological parent will remain liable for past-due child support payments unless legally released from that obligation.
If you want more information regarding the possibility of stepparent adoption, please reach out to our office to schedule a consultation.
Adoption is the creation by law of the relationship of a parent and child between two individuals (N.C.G.S. 48-1-101(2)). North Carolina has specific laws regarding adoptions in the state. We handle certain types of adoption! Reach out and let us know how we can help.
Types of Adoption
Who can adopt?
Any adult who is over the age of 18 can adopt another person, except people who are married cannot adopt one another. People who are single can adopt (whether straight or LGBTQ). Married LGBTQ couples can also adopt. Your sexual orientation or gender identity cannot disqualify you from adoption in the state of North Carolina.
North Carolina does not permit “second parent adoptions,” when two adults who are not married jointly adopt a child. Whether your partner is opposite sex or same sex, you must be married to adopt a child together. Again, single people are permitted to adopt, but a second parent cannot adopt with you unless you are married. A same-sex spouse can do a “stepparent adoption” to adopt your same-sex spouse’s biological child to ensure that both spouses have equal rights to the child.
Whose consent do you need to adopt?
If a child is 12 or older (or an adult), the adoptee needs to consent to the adoption.
If one or both biological parents are relinquishing their rights to a child, the biological parent(s) must consent to the adoption.
If a married couple is adopting, both spouses must consent to the adoption.
What do I need to begin an adoption?
A preplacement assessment is needed in most situations before you can be considered as a placement for a child. This is commonly referred to as a “home study,” and will ensure that your home is a proper environment for a child. Stepparent adoptions usually do not require this step, as the adoptee is usually already living in the home with the stepparent (but sometimes they are still required in a stepparent adoption in certain circumstances). A home study is also typically not needed if you are adopting a child who is related to you. For instance, if you were adopting a niece or nephew or a grandchild.
What are the legal effects of adoption?
For a biological parent:
Divests all rights a biological parent has to their biological child.
Relieves the biological parent from all legal duties and obligations to support their biological child, except for any obligation to pay past-due child support.
For an adoptive parent:
Confers legal parental status on a person who is not the biological parent of a child.
Allows the adoptive parent to provide for their adoptive child via the laws of intestate succession (dying without a will), or by deed, grant, will, or other written instruments.
For a child:
Terminates the adoptee’s relationship with her former parent(s).
Complete substitution of families for all legal purposes. For example, a child who is adopted by a stepfather can no longer inherit from his or her biological father either by intestate succession laws (if Father dies without a will), or via deeds, grants, wills, or other written instruments.
Allows adoptee to inherit from the adoptive parents in all the same ways as a child born of the adoptive parents could.
We can help with certain types of adoptions. Please feel free to reach out to schedule a consultation, or see if our firm can help with your particular situation.
Lindsey Dasher is the Managing Partner at Dasher Law PLLC