How Can a Stepparent Adopt Their Stepchild in Texas?

A few weeks ago, I was doing consultations with prospective clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC.  It was a Saturday morning when a husband and wife walked in to speak with us. I discovered that the wife had two children from her prior marriage. Now, her current husband expressed interest in formally adopting his stepchildren. The first question I asked is if this is a step-parent adoption after death.

Some children out there don’t have any parents who take a strong interest in them. So, I was happy to see two kids who probably went through stressful times have two loving parents.

Make no mistake. This is not a consultation that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, take regularly. Stepparents who want to and are in a position to adopt their stepchildren don’t come along all that often. In many situations, one parent of a child has recently passed away or no longer plays an active role in their child’s life.

Step-Parent Adoption After Death

The challenge for most families lies here. To adopt a stepchild, one must terminate the rights of a deceased parent or a biological parent. Step-parent adoption after death of the child’s parent is possible, but what if both parents are still alive?

If you’re a stepparent wanting to start the process of adopting your stepchild, this blog post is for you. In Texas family law, there are specific steps to follow for a successful adoption. Let’s discuss those steps and problems that you should be aware of.

Stepparents Can Motion a Court to Become a Person With Rights and Duties for a Child

As established by a family law court, parental rights are what you are seeking through the adoption process of your stepchild. Of course, you can assist in the raising of your stepchild, primarily if they reside in your home. Still, in the eyes of the law, you do not have any right to make decisions for the child’s well-being or any duties to provide certain things for the child.

Stepparent adoptions function the same as other “traditional” adoption cases except that stepparent adoptions can occur only in specific situations. Those situations are as follows:

Deceased parent. In step-parent adoption after death, your stepchild may have a deceased parent, and you are willing to step into that void and become a parent to the child in the eyes of the law. 

Absentee parent. I recently encountered this situation with prospective clients. If a biological parent is not actively involved in their child’s life, the stepparent can petition the court for rights and duties regarding the child. To qualify, the stepparent must be married to the child’s actively involved parent.

How to Petition a Court for Step-Parent Adoption After Death or Absence of Child’s Parent

Now that you’re aware of the circumstances for stepchild adoption, let’s explore the steps involved.

1. Begin by filing a Petition to assign your case to a family law judge in your county. While you can file independently, hiring an experienced adoption attorney can save time and money.

2. If your stepchild’s other parent is alive, you can try to cooperate with them to terminate their rights voluntarily. If that’s not feasible, you’ll need a court hearing in the assigned family law court.

3. The child’s best interests are the judge’s primary consideration in deciding the adoption’s success.

4. To assist the court in making its decision, a social study may be conducted. A licensed social worker or therapist will assess your home, interview your stepchild, spouse, and yourself.

Amicus Attorney

Finally, your judge will appoint an amicus attorney to assist them in making a final determination. The amicus will perform some of the same evaluations as the social study worker.

The amicus attorney will ultimately recommend to the judge whether the adoption of your stepchild should be permitted. If you’re a dedicated stepparent with the child’s best interests at heart, your chances of success at this stage are high.

Questions about stepparent adoption? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC.

From Baytown to Brazoria and into The Woodlands, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, represents clients across southeast Texas. Contact us today to discover more about our office and arrange a free consultation regarding step-parent adoption in cases of a deceased parent or an absentee parent. 


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  1. Adoption in Texas: Essential information that you need to know
  2. How can a stepparent adopt their stepchild in Texas?
  3. 15 Simple (But Important) Things To Remember About Texas Adoption Cases And Lawyers
  4. How can parental rights be terminated in Texas?
  5. Termination of Parental Rights and an MSA in Texas
  6. Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
  7. Relinquishment and Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
  8. Terminating Parental Rights in Texas on the Absent Parent
  9. Voluntarily Relinquishing Your Parental Rights in Texas
  10. What rights does a father have in Texas?
  11. Fathers’ Rights: Children Born Out of Wedlock in Texas?

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Texas Adoption Lawyers

The adoption process can be daunting at times. You don’t have to face it alone. The attorneys at The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, can help you navigate the process and create your perfect family. Speak directly with one of our adoption attorneys about your case.

Our Spring, Texas Adoption Lawyers are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Texas Adoption Cases in Spring, Texas or surrounding areas, including Harris County, including Cypress, Klein, Humble, Tomball, the FM 1960 area, North Houston; and Montgomery County, including Conroe and The Woodlands; as well as the surrounding counties of Fort Bend, Grimes, Waller, and Washington, contact us today to speak directly with one of our family law attorneys about your case.

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