Dealing with the Nonresidential Parent in a Stepparent Adoption

Child With Adoptive ParentThere is probably no greater responsibility than being a parent to a child, which is why legal adoption is so difficult in America and most other countries. In a 2014 report by the United States Census Bureau, adopted children made up seven percent of the 65.8 million sons and daughters under 18 years old in 2010. Although it seems like a significant number, there are still more people who get rejected every year than lucky ones.

Legal adoption is a decision for many married couples who couldn’t bear biological children due to infertility. For some, it’s the case of adopting your spouse’s child from a previous relationship. A common problem with this scenario is getting the consent of the child’s nonresidential parent. Although seeking a family law attorney is best in the situation, here are some basic things you should know when dealing with other “other parent.”

The Difficult Case of Granting Consent

In all stepparent adoptions, the child’s other birth or legal parent needs to consent to the adoption. It may be difficult to get the agreement since it means that the other parent will be giving up all their parental rights. This includes visitation rights and medical or educational decisions.

Terminating the Nonresidential Parent’s Rights

The adoption process will not progress when the other parent refuses to give their consent. This is unless you can prove that they are not fit to be the child’s legal guardian, or they are guilty of abandonment or have failed in supporting the child. Most states will consider a parent of abandoning a child if they deliberately support the child for at least a year.

Disproving Fatherhood

The legal definition of fatherhood is if you are married to a child’s mother when the child was born, or you married her shortly after the baby was born.

If you can present proof that the nonresidential parent doesn’t meet the legal definition of parenthood, the court can terminate his rights and will allow you to proceed with the adoption without his consent.

Stepparent adoption is usually easier to complete since some processes are already waived. However, it is the agreement of the other parent that often poses some problems.