What Do Parents Need to Know about Step-parent Adoption?

Step-parent adoption is quite common. Learn more about this process that allows a step-parent to become a legal parent.

Step-parent adoption is similar to adoption by a non-family member or other family members, but there are also many differences in the process. The laws governing this type of adoption are set by the state of Texas and have been created to make step-parent adoption an easier process than other types of adoption. However, there are still many similarities and general things that must happen in any adoption situation.

Step-parent adoption defined

The Child Welfare Information Gateway explains step-parent adoption is when a step-parent becomes the legal parent of a stepchild. This is the most common type of adoption.

The parent to whom the step-parent is married is still the child’s legal parent, but the other parent relinquishes his or her parental rights, allowing the step-parent to take his or her place in the child’s life. The other parent no longer has any say in how the child is raised and no rights to see the child or be involved in his or her life. In addition, any child support obligations are removed.

The importance of consent

Consent is a large part of a step-parent adoption. To adopt a stepchild, a step-parent must get consent from the parent he or she is not married to. As can be expected, this is not always easy but is necessary under state law.

According to the Texas Constitution and Statutes, additional consent may also be required. If the child is age 12 or older, then he or she must also agree to the adoption in most cases. Of course, the best interest of the child is always considered, so even if the child does not consent, the court may still allow the adoption to proceed if it is what's best for the child. The parent to whom the step-parent is married must agree to the adoption as well, which means joining in the petition for adoption.

Required documentation

The Children’s Commission outlines the required paperwork that must be submitted for the adoption process to proceed. These requirements are generally the same for any type of adoption with one exception. Step-parent adoptions do not have to submit a health, social, educational, and genetic history report.

A step-parent adoption does require written consent forms, an Indian tribe response or report, if applicable, a criminal history report, a pre-adoptive social study, and a post-placement social study. Lastly, a court order of parental rights termination must be submitted.

Step-parent adoption is not as complex as other types of adoption due to the already present family connection. There may be bumps in the road and the process does require a lot of work, but in the end, it is often best for the child for the adoption to go through. More information about step-parent adoption or answer to any questions are available from the Tracton Law Firm, PLLC