Marrying an individual with children from a prior relationship, does not entitle you to make medical, educational or other important decisions on that child or children’s behalf. Only by creating a legal relationship between yourself and the child (not just their parent) would you be allowed to make those decisions.
In order to create such a relationship, the step-parent must have the following:
- The consent of both biological parents to establishing the legal relationship (unless the court finds that the other parent’s consent is not legally required); and
- If the child is over 10 years old, the consent of that child, and their presence at the final hearing.
There is, inevitably, a termination of rights of one parent in preference of the step-parent creating and adopting the child. Absent consent of the parent who’s rights are being terminated, the court will only terminate if there is proof of abuse or neglect.
The adoption process will require a background check, fingerprinting, and a home inspection. Upon the successful completion of these requirements, the court will be able to finalize the adoption, thereby creating the legal relationship between the stepparent is if they are the biological parent, with the same rights and responsibilities to that child.
Moving through the adoption process, can be complicated and confusing. Utilizing the assistance of an experienced family law attorney, is important, as the extremely personal and significant relationship is at stake.
Please contact the attorneys at Shane and White, LLC at 732-819-9100 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your step-parent adoption matter.