A few weeks ago I was doing consultations with prospective clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC on a Saturday morning when a husband and wife walked in to speak with us. I came to find out that the wife had two children from her prior marriage and her current husband was interested in formally adopting his step children.
For all the children out there who don’t have any parents who take a strong interest in them, I was happy to see that there were two kids out there that probably have gone through some stressful times that have two loving parents in their lives.
Make no mistake that this is not a consultation that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC take on a regular basis. Step parents who want to and are in a position to adopt their step children don’t come along all that often. In many situations one parent of a child has recently died or is no longer actively involved in their child’s life.
There is where the rub lies for most families- in order for a step parent to adopt their step child there must either be a deceased parent or a biological parent’s rights to the child must be terminated.
If you are a step parent who would like to begin to the process of attempting to adopt your step child then this blog post is designed for you. As with most things in the field of family law in Texas there are steps to follow in our legal system to be able to complete a successful adoption. Let’s discuss those steps and problems that you should be aware of.
Step parents can motion a court to become a person with rights and duties for a child
Parental rights as established by a family law court is what you are actually seeking through the adoption process of your step child. Of course you have an ability to assist in the raising of your step child, especially if he or she resides in your home, but in the eyes of the law you do not have any rights to make decisions for the child’s well being or any duties to provide certain things for the child.
Step parent adoptions function basically the same as other “traditional” adoption cases with the exception that step parent adoptions can occur only in specific situations. Those situations are as follows:
-Deceased parent. As stated earlier in this blog post, your step child may have a parent who is deceased and you are willing to step into that void and become a parent to the child in the eyes of the law.
-Absentee parent. Unfortunately this is the situation that I ran into with the prospective clients that I met with a few weeks ago. When a biological parent is not taking an active role in their child’s life a step parent can intervene and petition a court in order to gain rights and duties as to that child.
In addition to these circumstances being applicable, you as the step parent must be married to the parent of the child who is actively involved in their life.
How to actually petition a court for adoption of a step child
Now that you know the sort of circumstances that can lead to your being able to adopt your step child, you will need to know the steps involved in actually adopting him or her.
Like with a divorce or other lawsuit involving children, you will need to file a Petition in order to have your case assigned to a family law judge in the county where you live. It is possible to file a Petition for Step Parent Adoption on your own but it is advisable to hire an attorney who has worked with adoption cases before. Saving time and money are both possible with the assistance of an attorney.
If your step child’s “other” parent is still living you have the option to attempt to work with that parent to agree to terminate their rights to your step child. If this is not possible then you will need to have your petition heard through the family law court to which your case has been assigned.
As we have discussed in many blog posts, the best interests of the child will be the guiding principle that your judge uses to determine if you will be successful in your adoption attempt.
To assist the court in making their determination, there will be a social study completed in the event that the judge believes that it is in the best interests of your step child for your adoption attempt to continue. A social study involves having a licensed social worker, therapist or similar professional visit your home to evaluate your living conditions. Your step child will be met with and interviewed as well as your spouse.
Finally, an amicus attorney will be appointed by your judge in order to assist him or her in making a final determination. The amicus will perform some of the same sort of evaluations as the social study worker.
Ultimately the amicus attorney will make a recommendation to your judge as to whether or not you should be allowed to adopt your step child. Ultimately if you are a devoted step parent and have the best intentions for your child the odds are in your favor once your case proceeds to this point.
Questions about step parent adoption? Please contact 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. In order to learn more about our office and to schedule a free of charge consultation please contact us today. We take a great deal of pride in assisting families like yours with their legal situations and we would be honored to speak to you about the possibility of helping you do the same.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Adoption in Texas: Essential information that you need to know
- How can a step parent adopt their step child in Texas?
- 15 Simple (But Important) Things To Remember About Texas Adoption Cases And Lawyers
- How can parental rights be terminated in Texas?
- Termination of Parental Rights and an MSA in Texas
- Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
- Relinquishment and Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
- Terminating Parental Rights in Texas on the Absent Parent
- Voluntarily Relinquishing Your Parental Rights in Texas
- What rights does a father have in Texas?
- 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 time. 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. If you are in the greater Houston area and are interested in learning more, contact us today to 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 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.