Blended families are increasingly common, and many people act as step-parents to their spouse’s child. When both biological parents are living and involved in a child’s life, they generally will be recognized as the child’s legal parents. In cases in which only one biological parent has custody rights, though, it is not uncommon for step-parents to want to seek legal custody of their step-children. Adopting a child is a rewarding but significant undertaking, and it is crucial for anyone interested in step-parent adoption to speak to an attorney about what the process entails. The capable Dallas child custody lawyers of McClure Law Group are proficient at helping people take the steps necessary to legally change the shapes of their families, and if you or your spouse wish to pursue a step-parent adoption, we can advise you of your options.The Basics of Step-Parent Adoption
Step-parent adoption, like other adoptions, is the process of legally defining a person’s parental rights and obligations. Generally, Texas allows any adult to adopt a child who may be adopted. In regards to step-parents, children may only be adopted in certain circumstances. Specifically, in order for a child to be adopted by a step-parent, the child must only have one biological parent with parental rights, and that parent must be married to the step-parent and join in the adoption petition. Former step-parents can adopt their step-children in certain cases as well. Specifically, if a child is at least two years old and the parent-child relationship has been terminated as to one parent, a child’s former step-parent can adopt the child if the nonterminated parent consents to the adoption.The Step-Parent Adoption Process
The process of seeking a step-parent adoption varies slightly depending on whether one or both biological parents currently have parental rights. If the other parent, meaning the parent who is not married to the step-parent, is alive and no court has issued an order terminating his or her parental rights, the step-parent and his or her spouse must file an original petition to terminate the parent-child relationship and for adoption. If the other parent is deceased or his or her parental rights have been terminated via a court order, the parent and step-parent must file an original petition for adoption.
In some instances, the other parent will willingly renounce his or her rights by signing an affidavit of relinquishment. If the other parent does not relinquish his or her rights, the court will conduct a hearing to determine if those rights should be terminated without the parent’s consent. As with all custody matters, the court’s primary interest in such cases is what is in the best interest of the child in question.
If the other parent’s parental rights have been terminated, the court will evaluate whether the step-parent has satisfied the adoption requirements. These may include adoption and custody evaluations, a review of the criminal history reports of the step-parent and parent by the court, and an affidavit regarding compliance of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children that is signed and verified by the petitioners. The court will also evaluate whether granting the adoption is in the child’s best interest. If a court grants the petition for adoption, the step-parent will then be the child’s legal parent and will have the rights and obligations that come with that role.Confer with a Trusted Dallas Lawyer
Step-parents often have active roles in the lives of their step-children, and in some instances, they are able to legally define their parental rights via a step-parent adoption. If you wish to obtain more information about step-parent adoption, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney. At McClure Law Group, our trusted Dallas lawyers are skilled at handling a variety of child custody issues, including adoption, and we can help you seek the results you want. Our main office is in Dallas, and we are able to meet clients for consultations at our Collin County office in Plano. We regularly help people with adoptions in Dallas, Frisco, Fort Worth, Irving, McKinney, Richardson, Rockwall, and Garland. We also assist people with family in cities in Dallas, Rockwall, Collin, Denton, Tarrant, and Grayson Counties. You can contact us by calling 214.692.8200 or via our online form to set up a conference.