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 discovered that the wife had two children from her prior marriage and her current husband was interested in formally adopting his stepchildren.
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 two kids out there probably have gone through some stressful times and 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 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 died or is no longer actively involved in their child's life.
There is where the rub lies for most families- for a stepparent to adopt their stepchild, there must either be a deceased parent or a biological parent's rights to the child must be terminated.
Suppose you are a stepparent who would like to begin the process of attempting to adopt your stepchild, 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 complete 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. As stated earlier in this blog post, 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. 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 stepparent can intervene and petition a court to gain rights and duties as to that child.
In addition to these circumstances being applicable, you as the stepparent must be married to the child's parent who is actively involved in their life.
How to petition a court for the adoption of a stepchild
Now that you know the circumstances that can lead to your adapting to your stepchild, you will need to know the steps involved in adopting them.
Like with a divorce or other lawsuit involving children, you will need to file a Petition 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 independently, 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 stepchild'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 stepchild. If this is not possible, 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 child's best interests 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 if the judge believes that it is in the best interests of your stepchild 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 stepchild will be met with and interviewed as well as your spouse.
Finally, an amicus attorney will be appointed by your judge to assist them in making a final determination. The amicus will perform some of the same evaluations as the social study worker.
Ultimately the amicus attorney will make a recommendation to your judgment as to whether or not you should be allowed to adopt your stepchild. Finally, if you are a devoted stepparent and have the best intentions for your child, the odds are in your favor once your case proceeds to this point.
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. Please get in touch with us today to learn more about our office and schedule a free-of-charge consultation. 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 stepparent adopt their stepchild 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 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. 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 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.