Thinking of adopting your stepchild? The most common form of adoption is a step-parent adoption. In these situations, the adoption stepparent assumes financial and legal responsibility for his or her spouse’s child or children. This releases the noncustodial parent of parental rights and responsibilities, including child support. The adopting parents must both submit to a criminal background check and must file an affidavit with the Court regarding all money paid and received as part of the adoption. In some cases, it is necessary for a home study to be done by the department of social services.
In order for the adoption to proceed, the parental rights of one or both natural parents must be terminated by consent or by court order. If the child is over the age of 14, the child will also need to sign a consent to the adoption. There are some circumstances where the noncustodial parent’s consent is not required. If the noncustodial parent is unfit or has abandoned the minor child, consent may not be necessary. When deciding whether a child has been abandoned, the Court looks to the intent and actions of the parent. The evidence must show that the abandonment has taken place for at least six months.
After the parental rights have been terminated by consent or court order, the parties must appear at a hearing before the court. In an uncontested case when all other requirements have been fulfilled, this hearing is often a happy one.
Unsure if you case has sufficient evidence to prove abandonment? Please contact Columbia Family Law Group to determine how the law applies to your specific case.