Step parent adoptions are one of the most common adoptions completed in the United States. Step parent adoption is when the child's legal parent marries a person who then wishes to assume legal and financial responsibility of the spouses child. Both of the child's parents including custodial and the non-custodial parent must agree to the adoption. The non-custodial parent's right must either terminate through the court process or they must give their consent to the adoption.
Consent is the obviously easiest way to start the process, however it isn't always as easy as it seems. If consent isn't given by the non-custodial parent then the other option is terminating the rights of that parent. Once the non-custodial parent relinquished rights, either by consent or termination of rights, all financial obligations, including child support, stop.
In some states if the child is of certain age, the consent of the child is also required prior to allowing a step parent adoption.
Each state has their own laws on how the process takes place or even if the process will be allowed in certain circumstances, however here is a basic list of step that should take place within a step parent adoption:
First, check the laws in your state regarding step parent adoptions.
Consent for adoption or termination of rights. As discussed above, one of these two options must be completed prior to moving forward.
Contact the court office that takes care of step parent adoptions in your area. This might be a juvenile section of the court system, a family court, or other court mandated by that state. Once the correct office has been contacted you need to ask for the proper documents that are needed for the process, find out if an attorney is needed to complete the process, and see if a home study is required by your state laws.
Complete and gather all documents needed to complete the process and submit those documents and wait for notification from the court offices on when your hearing will take place.
Arrive at your court hearing as mandated by the documents you receive from the court. At the hearing, the judge will ask questions of all parties involved and make a decision on whether to agree to this adoption or not and then sets a date for finalization which you may or may not have to attend. If the judge agrees to the adoption, the certificate of adoption is then issued.
The final step is to apply for an amended birth certificate once the adoption has been finalized.