For the millions of blended households across the U.S., stepparent adoption can offer a way of uniting families in a legal manner. Stepparent adoptions are the most common form of adoption both in Kansas and nationally. While a stepparent adoption can be the perfect choice for uniting you and your stepchild, it will not be the right choice for every family.
The following is a look two important factors to consider before proceeding with a stepparent adoption. Careful assessment of the pros and cons of stepparent adoption can help you to decide whether it is the right choice for your family.
- Stepparent adoption is a serious and permanent commitment—a stepparent adoption creates a relationship between the adopting stepparent and the child that is the same as if the child were born to the stepparent. The legal relationship between the child and the “other” parent, the one not married to the adopting stepparent, is terminated. A stepparent adoption decree is permanent. Therefore, in the event of a divorce, the adoptive stepparent will be responsible for child support and has the right to seek custody or visitation of the child. In cases where the child is adopted by a stepfather, the child’s last name can be changed to the stepfather’s. Following a stepparent adoption, a new birth certificate will issue, listing the adopting stepparent as the child’s natural parent.
- Stepparent adoption will terminate the rights of the other parent—as mentioned above, in order for a stepparent adoption to proceed, the rights of the other parent (generally the non-custodial) will be terminated. This means the child will lose any right to child support or inheritance from this parent. Further, the parent will lose any right to visitation or custody. This is a major step that, for some families, will not prove beneficial to the child. If the child has a strong relationship with the other parent and that parent provides both financial and care giving support, a stepparent adoption is not likely the right choice. However, in situations where the other parent is absent from the child’s life and does not care for the child, either financially or in a caretaker capacity, a stepparent adoption will offer the child a chance at a real parental figure.
- Stepparent adoption provides the stepparent with decision making authority—along with the right to request custody or visitation in the event of a divorce, a stepparent adoption confers upon the stepparent all the same rights to make important decisions concerning your stepchild as the natural parent. You will have a say in medical decisions, education, school, religion, and other such life issues.
As these factors illustrate, there are many benefits, and some drawbacks, to any stepparent adoption. All parties involved in the potential adoption, namely the stepparent, his or her spouse, the child (if old enough), and the other parent, should discuss these factors and come to an informed agreement as to the adoption. For the right blended family, a stepparent adoption will offer the legal security and permanency you need to form a perfect bond with your stepchild.
McDowell Chartered: Wichita, Kansas Stepparent Adoption Attorneys of Distinction
The experienced Kansas Family Law Attorneys at McDowell Chartered have devoted decades to providing legal services for all family law related matters. Our compassionate attorney staff handles matters ranging from adoptions and guardianships, to wills and estate planning. We have helped countless stepparents successfully adopt their stepchildren, advising and navigating them seamlessly through the process. Call us today at (316) 633-4322 to schedule your initial consultation.