When individuals divorce and remarry, they bring together families that may have already taken form. For example, a divorced North Carolina mother of two may choose to marry a divorced father of one, and once they wed the merging of their lives creates a blended family. The father becomes a stepparent to his wife’s two kids and the mother becomes a stepparent to her husband’s child.
Blended families can thrive when adults and children maintain their stepparent-stepchild relationships. However, in some circumstances stepparents may wish to make their spouses’ kids their own children, and this necessitates the families to go through the stepparent adoption process. Stepparent adoption makes a child the legal offspring of their biological parent’s spouse.
In order for a stepparent to adopt their spouse’s child, the child’s second biological or legal parent must relinquish their parental rights to the youth. They may do so voluntarily or a parent may have their rights terminated through judicial intervention. In either case, a child may not be adopted by a stepparent if both of their biological or legal parents claim rights to them.
Depending upon a child’s age, a court may inquire of the youth whether they wish to be adopted by their stepparent. A child’s preferences are one factor that a court will evaluate in deciding if a stepparent should become the legal parent of the child.
Often stepparent adoptions are a rewarding process that brings family members closer together. However, complications can arise that necessitate legal support and assistance. When beginning the stepparent adoption process, it can be helpful for individuals to consult with trusted family law attorneys.