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How can I adopt my stepchild?

No matter how your family came together, you know that it is yours. While some people are fortunate enough to have functional and loving families from the get-go, others often have to fight to build a clan of support from several more complicated pieces.

Whatever your story is, it is a noble and loving desire to want to legally adopt your spouse's birth child. However, like all adoptions, the process is a complex one. Adopting your stepchild as your own may take time and face some challenges.

Do not let the challenge deter you from this great goal - with proper legal guidance, you can create a plan to achieve legal adoption, even if the process takes some time.

The matter of parental consent

If your stepchild's other parent whom you wish to adopt them away from has passed away, then there is no need to acquire consent (although other family members may wish to retain visitation rights).

However, if both parents are still living, the first hurdle to overcome is whether or not there is a parent who must grant his or her consent to the adoption. If, for instance, you are a married to a woman with a child from her former husband, the child's biological father must consent to your adopting the child.

However, if the biological father's rights were previously revoked, then you may not have to acquire his consent. His rights may have been revoked because of

  • abandonment
  • failure to pay child support
  • neglect
  • general unfitness or endangering the child

If the biological father still retains his rights, it may take some convincing to persuade him to relinquish his parental rights. It may be useful to keep in mind that the father giving up parental rights will no longer have to pay child support, which may provide some motivation.

In some cases, it may be possible to legally deny another parent his or her parental rights if you can demonstrate unfitness to parent or abandonment. These cases can take time and are often tricky to prove legally, but are worth the effort for building your family.

Don't fight this fight alone

While consent is not the only issue to consider when attempting to adopt a child, it is the most difficult one in most cases. No matter what your circumstances may be, you deserve to have your situation professionally evaluated.

A professional, experienced attorney can help you understand the nuances of the law as they may apply to you and your family, and help you build a plan to legally adopt the child you love.

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