How Do I Begin A Stepparent Adoption in Texas?
If you’re married and your spouse has children, there are many reasons that you may be considering adopting your stepchild.
Stepparent adoption is becoming more common, and one of the more powerful reasons is that it usually cements a deeper bond between you and your stepchild. It also provides lifelong stability and security for your child and the entire family.
Usually, in Texas, though, stepparent adoption can be a complicated legal process. However, with your Bellaire adoption lawyer’s professional and empathetic guidance and preparation, you could make this dream a reality.
There are essentially two ways to begin your stepparent adoption case. Still, much depends on whether a parent-child relationship exists between your stepchild and their other biological parent (not married to your spouse).
- If your children’s other natural parent is alive, then there must be a court order to terminate that parent’s “parental rights.” If there is no court order, you and your adoption lawyer must file an Original Petition to Terminate the Parent-Child Relationship before you proceed any further.
- If your stepchild’s other parent is deceased or “out of the picture altogether” (due to abandonment, etc.) or a termination of parental rights is filed. In that case, you and your spouse can file an Original Petition for Adoption.
Of course, importantly, to file for stepparent adoption, you must be married to the child’s legal parent.
Additionally, almost all stepparent adoption cases differ regarding their specific details, circumstances, and complexity. So, you must consult a local Bellaire adoption lawyer versed in these matters and obtain a free case evaluation. This initial meeting will allow your lawyer to review all pertinent facts of your case and guide you successfully down the correct legal path to follow.
What Are Some Of The Criteria Needed for a Stepparent Adoption?
Specific legal and other criteria must be met before moving through the Texas adoption process and finalizing your case.
To allow you and your lawyer to file for your adoption, one of the following specific criteria must be met:
- Your stepchild has one living biological parent (as the other biological parent is deceased).
- Your stepchild is a grown adult and can consent on their own to the adoption.
- Only one biological parent exists because the other chooses not to be involved with the child, has abandoned the child, cannot be located, or their identity is unknown.
- Your spouse (one of the biological parents) consents to sign documents releasing the other natural parent of their parental responsibilities.
Also, Texas stepparent adoption law mandates that you, as the stepparent, live with the child (or children) for at least six months before the adoption can be finalized. This rule ensures the stepchild is comfortable with you and bonded to a new parent. As an underlying rule in these matters, the Texas courts only will proceed if the adoption is in the best interest of the child (or children) involved.
Why Should I Adopt My Stepchild, and Does Their Opinion Matter?
In Texas, and almost everywhere, there are many emotional and legally sound reasons for you to want to adopt stepchildren.
For many loving families, solidifying this new and lasting family bond is a highly positive decision. Sometimes, the family unit may wish to provide their stepchildren emotional and structural stability and security. This could be especially true if the children have been in the stepparent’s life since they were young.
Also, by adopting your stepchildren, you can significantly simplify many aspects of daily life, such as taking them to doctors, enrolling them in school, making critical decisions that may affect their future lives, and more. Once your stepparent adoption is finalized, you legally move into the same role as either of the child’s biological parents.
Also, depending on their age, the child’s (or children’s) opinions and feelings on the matter are considered. For example, if a child is at least 12 years of age or older, then they will have a say in the stepparent adoption process. At this age and older, your stepchild must consent, in writing or personally in court. Thus, the child will be permitting you to move forward with their adoption.
So, this entire legal process is usually a complex legal matter. The best path to take is to consult with your local experienced, professional adoption lawyer first and be provided with all of the options and possible roadblocks to the Texas stepchild adoption process.
If the Other Biological Parent Won’t Consent, What Can I Do?
Let’s say your stepchild’s other natural parent won’t consent to the adoption. You do have options, but the entire matter becomes much more difficult.
You still may be able to finalize the adoption, but first, some legal means must be found to terminate the other parent’s parental rights. You, and your lawyer, will have to show cause for this action, and it’s commonly a drastic (and possibly time-consuming) legal step. Also, it’s a matter that a Texas judge will usually not agree to without careful consideration and only if it is in the stepchild’s best interest!
To terminate the other parent’s parental rights, the Texas court needs to be shown at least one statutory reason (or grounds) for the termination. For example, the grounds could be child abandonment, failure to provide support, incarceration, or child abuse.
Also, the court must be convinced that terminating the biological parent’s rights is absolutely in the child’s best interest. In doing so, they will consider the age, physical and emotional needs, present living situation, and all relevant factors involving the child.
This is a critical area where you must have a local Bellaire adoption attorney thoroughly experienced in family law and stepparent adoption in Texas.
I Wish To Adopt My Stepchildren; How Should I Proceed?
Suppose you’re a resident of Texas and are ready to embark on this rewarding, life-changing process. In that case, you must obtain the services of a Bellaire family law team dedicated and thoroughly experienced in helping your family through this rewarding experience.’
Obtain a free case evaluation, and call the ALP Law Firm at (832)-930-0997 immediately. They are always ready to help you through every step of the stepparent adoption process. Contact ALP Law Firm as soon as possible, and begin your journey to fulfill your family’s dreams.