Step-parent adoption is the most common type of adoption. In a step-parent adoption the adopting step-parent assumes financial and legal responsibility for his/her spouse's child or children and releases the non- custodial parent from all parental responsibilities, including current and future child support.
When a step-parent wishes to adopt a step-child, both of the child's biological parents are typically required to consent to that adoption. This right of the biological parents has nothing to do with who has custody of the child or who has supported the child. In consenting to an adoption, the parent relinquishes all parental rights and responsibilities, including child support currently and in the future. Many states will not allow a step-parent adoption if the parent who is being "replaced" objects. However, there are special circumstances under which the non-custodial parent's consent may not be required or where the court will end the non-custodial birth parent's parental rights involuntarily.
Given the permanency of a step-parent adoption, you should not do this on your own without the advice and assistance of an attorney, optimally one who has experience in adoption or family law. There are several other important things to remember in a step-parent adoption. It is critical that you understand that once you adopt the child, the child is as much yours and as much your responsibility as if the child was yours biologically. If something happens to end the relationship between you and the biological parent you have married, you are still responsible for the care and welfare of the child you have adopted.
Another important note is that state laws on step-parent adoptions vary and in many states the judge hearing the adoption petition has the ability to enforce or dispense with the requirement in state law for an adoption home study. Additionally, some states may require the custodial parent has been married to the step-parent for at least 1 year or longer.
For additional information regarding step-parent adoption please read the Child Welfare Information Gateway article "Step-parent Adoption".
BeingAStepParent website offers a unique reference point on extensive advice for step parents and their families.
If you are looking for an adoption attorney or family law attorney, you may want to check the yellow pages of your local phone book or visit the link adoption attorneys.
To find an adoption agency that can help you if a home study is needed, contact us at Adoption Services or visit the link Adoption Agencies: Domestic and please visit our home page to read about our commitment to assist adoptive parents like you as well as pregnant women and birth parents.
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Dr Vince Berger
and the staff of Adoption Services
Adoption Services, Inc
28 Central Blvd
Camp Hill, PA 17011