A stepparent adoption creates a legal relationship between a stepparent and stepchild that previously did not exist. It declares that the person being adopted (stepchild) is legally the child of the adoptive parent (stepfather or stepmother), and the child becomes the adopting parent’s legal heir.
The stepchild becomes entitled to all of the rights and privileges and subject to all of the obligations as if they were a child born to the adoptive stepparent.
A stepparent adoption only ends the rights of one of the birth parents. The spouse of the stepparent retains their rights as a biological parent of the child.
Stepparent adoption is one of the most common types of adoption proceedings. Usually, the child being adopted is a minor; however, a stepchild who has reached adult age can be adopted through an adult adoption proceeding.
In a stepparent adoption, the child’s legal rights and duties towards his or her natural absent parents are terminated and similar rights and duties toward the person’s adoptive parent are assumed.
To start a stepparent adoption, you first file a Petition with the court. In order to complete the adoption process, the biological parent must relinquish their rights to allow the stepparent to adopt the child. If they will not relinquish their rights, it may be possible to end their rights if they have not supported the child or had any contact with them for an extended period.
Unless the court does not require it, a petition to adopt a child under age 18 may be granted only if:
The court may approve an adoption without the noncustodial parent’s consent to adoption if:
In these instances, a separate proceeding to end the noncustodial parent’s rights may be required to be filed in addition to the Petition for Adoption.