Marrying a person who’s had children from a previous marriage will involve some paperwork if you’re planning to adopt their kids. Usually, stepchildren are adopted to secure them a rightful place in legal matters, such as inheritance and property concerns. That’s because the law treats adopted children as biological children.
But before deciding to adopt your spouse’s kid, you might need to ask yourself some questions and visualize the possible outcomes. Aside from the child’s consent to be adopted, you need to consider their other parent (if they’re still living and hasn’t abandoned the child), your spouse, and your own circumstances as well.
Below are detailed explanations on why you need to consider those, as well as other factors to take into account before adopting your stepchild/children.
Unless the child’s noncustodial parent has already abandoned them, you need their consent along with your spouse’s and the child themselves. The age at which a child can consent differs per state, but generally speaking, the minimum age for consenting to adoption is from 10 – 14 years old.
If if there is a need to obtain the noncustodial parent’s consent, they may do it either through a written statement or by appearing before a judge or to the court. The state laws will determine which of the three must be done. In some states, counseling for parents may also be required, or that they talk to a lawyer.
Be sure to check your state laws to learn everything that you need to know before adopting your stepchild.
2. Legal Requirements and Issues
Some states do not approve a stepparent adoption unless you’re married to the child’s parent and have been living with the child for at least a year. Other than that, your family may also be required to be represented by a skilled family law attorney in Colorado Springs or other areas. The judge may also ask for a home study or a criminal background check, which many states require.
With regards to legal issues, you have to be aware that when you adopt your stepchild, their legal ties to their noncustodial parent will be severed. This means that the child can no longer inherit their estate unless their noncustodial parent specifically states so in their written will.
3. Your Readiness to Care for a Child
Before thinking about any legal issues involved, you most probably have to consider this one first. How ready are you take on the responsibility of a parent? Parenthood is a lifelong commitment, so by adopting your stepchild, you’re signing yourself up for a number of duties such as providing financial support as well as care and guidance. So unless you’re not ready to face any of these with certainty, then you can proceed with adopting your stepchild.
4. The Stability of Your Marriage
Since you will become legally recognized as the parent of your stepchild when you adopt them, you’re going to share all parental responsibilities with your spouse. If your marriage doesn’t seem to be stable enough that the likelihood of divorce is high, then you might not want to consider adoption any longer. Remember that if you adopt your stepchild, you’re going to be involved with your spouse for life, even if you separate or get divorced, especially if the child is not yet independent. Therefore, if you see your marriage lasting for a lifetime, then adopting your stepchild should be a good decision.
5. The Noncustodial Parent’s Objection
If the noncustodial parent hasn’t abandoned the child or isn’t an unfit parent, they may express objection to having their child adopted. In this case, an adoption is no longer an option while the child is still a minor. If they wish to be adopted, they may consent upon reaching 18 years old so that the permission of their noncustodial parent wouldn’t be required anymore.
To sum it all up, adoption is a sound decision if all parties consent and if you’re truly ready to take on the role of a parent for the rest of your life, together with your spouse.