Adoption Help from Albany Lawyers/Attorneys
If you are stepparent it is extremely likely that you already have a parental bond with your stepchild. It is not uncommon for stepparents to adopt their stepchildren. By adopting your stepchild you will have a legally protected parental relationship with that child. This will provide the child with permanency and security in the event the child’s other legal parent dies or becomes incapacitated. Other benefits for the child include his or her right to inherit from you (even if you die without a will) and the child’s right to receive your social security survivor benefits in the event of your death. Perhaps equally important, becoming the legal parent of your stepchild will cement the bond between the two of you, and create a safe, stable, and reliable home for your child.
Who must consent?
In order to adopt your stepchild you must have the consent of the biological parent that is relinquishing their right, unless the child is over the age of 18 or the Court finds that the consent of the other parent is not required because they no longer have a legally recognized relationship with the child. Your spouse (and biological parent of the child) will also need to consent but they will not need to relinquish their rights. If the child is more than 14 years old they will also have to consent.
What else does the Court require?
In addition to the application, the stepparent must be fingerprinted and cleared through the child abuse registry. There will also be a Court ordered home study, which you must pay. For the home study report a social worker will meet you and your family at your home. This is so the social worker can get a better understanding of what kind of environment the child will be getting. Home Study Reports are there to put the child in the best possible situation.
A stepparent who has resided with the adoptive child for more than a year before the adoption petition is filed does not have to be certified as a qualified adoptive parent (a procedure other adoptive parents must complete).
It is important to understand that after the adoption, the “parent” that relinquished their rights will no longer have the ability to seek custody or visitation and will be released from all parental responsibilities, including child support. The adoptive stepparent will then have the absolute right to seek custody and visitation, will also have an obligation to support the child and the child will have the right to inherit from the adoptive stepparent.
You become the child’s parent. The child’s birth certificate will even be amended to reflect you as the parent.
Rhoades Cunningham & McFadden, PLLC will help guide you through the adoption process. If you haven’t made your final decision and are still considering adopting your stepchild, our lawyers and attorneys are here to help and guide you.
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