The profile of the average American family has changed through the years. With a divorce rate in the U.S. that continues to hover near 50 percent, second marriages are more common than they used to be. Many families include children that are not the biological children of one of their parent figures. Although the relationship between a stepparent and child can be just like the relationship between a biological parent and a child, it doesn’t have the exact same legal status. So as to give a stepparent the exact same legal status, an adoption should occur. A Boise adoption attorney at Boise Family Law can walk you through the process, helping facilitate a smooth adoption process for all involved.
Why Do I Want to Adopt My Step-Child
The first question that may come to mind for a stepparent is, “Why do I want the legal standing of a biological parent?” One of the most crucial reasons for getting the legal status of a biological parent is that the stepparent can make important decisions for the child regarding healthcare, education, and legal issues. Other reasons are: adoption may cement the emotional link between the stepparent and child; adoption enables the child to inherit from the stepparent and their family as though the relationship were biological, and if the couple later divorces the stepparent has the right to seek visitation or custody rights.
How do I Adopt My Step-Child?
For a stepparent to adopt a child, the stepparent should have the consent of the other biological parent (presumably, the parent he or she’s married to won’t object). If the biological parent does not consent then the stepparent is only going to be able to adopt if the other biological parent’s rights are terminated. The grounds upon which a person’s parental rights could be terminated vary by state, but generally, they can be terminated for willful failure to support the child, abandonment, or unfitness to parent. Termination of parental rights is not something that is done lightly.
In a case involving a biological father’s rights, there are a number of alternative approaches to reach the termination of his parental rights. The guy is normally presumed by law to be the father of the child if he’s married to the mother at the time of the birth. Consequently, if the man is not married to the mother at the time of the birth then his legal status as the father has to be shown in different ways. States can have other standards that raise a presumption of fatherhood, such as marrying the mother after the birth of their child and being named as the father on the birth certificate. When there is no legal presumption of fatherhood, the rights of the alleged father are easier to terminate.
What are the Biological Parents’ Rights?
Termination of the biological parent’s parental rights means the biological parent gives up the right to visitation and to make decisions concerning the welfare of their child. This is a lot to ask from a biological parent who is involved in the life span of the child. Adoption by a stepparent may be better suited to situations where the other biological parent is absent or is unfit. Termination of parental rights also cuts off certain duties. For instance, the biological parent would no longer be required to make child support payments once their parental rights have been terminated.
The key considerations in a stepparent adoption would be the level of involvement of the other biological parent, how important it is that the stepparent has legal guardianship over the child (the right to make decisions), and the emotional impact on the child. Sometimes adoption isn’t necessary to accomplish what a parent and stepparent want to accomplish. The parent and stepparent should discuss their goals with an attorney to see if adoption is the best way to achieve them.
Contact an Adoption Attorney at Boise Family Law Today
If you are considering adopting your step-child, don’t go it alone and hope for the best. The adoption attorneys at Boise Family Law have years of experience assisting both biological and step-parents to navigate the adoption process. The impact of adopting a child is a life-long decision for both the parent and the child and should not be taken lightly. Let the experienced family lawyers at Boise Family Law help you and your family through the adoption process and complete the family you desire.