Families today look very different than they did 100 years ago. While many parents are able to divorce and continue to raise their children together, this is not always the case. Sometimes one parent is no longer in the picture, or doesn’t wish to retain their legal parental rights.
This often occurs when a biological parent:
- Is deceased
- Suffers from a severe mental illness
- Is chemically dependent and unable to care for themselves
- Was a sperm or egg donor
- Is in prison
When one parent is no longer interested in – or able – to parent, adoption is an option. The courts consider adoption petitions under these types of circumstances on a case-by-case basis. Any time a biological or adoptive parent gives up or loses their parental rights to a child, a stepparent can adopt the child. This includes voluntary termination proceedings, as well as parental termination proceedings that are court-ordered.
Benefits of Adopting a Step Child
People who are recognized as the legal parents of a child enjoy certain benefits that stepparents do not. Under the law, an adoptive parent has just as much right and responsibility for making decisions as a biological parent, including those related to health care, education, travel, and after school activities. Adoption provides permanence and security for the child and the family as a whole. If you choose to adopt your stepchild, your family will have peace of mind in knowing that both parents have the legal right to make decisions on that child’s behalf.
Responsibilities Associated with Adopting a Stepchild
It’s important to keep in mind that when a biological parent dies, a stepparent retains no rights, nor responsibilities, to the child. When a biological parent and a stepparent divorce, the stepparent similarly has no rights and responsibilities for the child. Adoption changes that. After an adoption, a stepparent has the same rights as a biological parent.
If You Are Considering Adopting a Stepchild
Under the right circumstances, adopting a stepchild is a happy choice that makes sense. If you think your family would benefit from a stepchild adoption, contact Eric C. Cheshire, P.A. Focusing exclusively on family law, Eric C. Cheshire can help your family navigate the adoption system. Adoptions are a happy time for families, as long as the adoption process goes smoothly. Because the process can be complicated and requires knowledge of the relevant rules and regulations, a qualified family law attorney can help. Contact our office today to discuss your family’s unique circumstances at (561) 295-3693.