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Child Custody, Family Law

Key Issues to Consider in a Step-Parent Adoption

You may ask yourself what exactly is a step-parent adoption? In a step-parent adoption, one of the biological parents is married to a third party who wishes to adopt the minor child in question as his or her own legal child. Hence, the rights of the absentee biological parent will be terminated during the course of the adoption, and the adopting party will step into the shoes of that parent and be considered the legal parent of the minor child on equal footing with the remaining biological parent.

Here are 4 questions to bear in mind when you’re considering a step-parent adoption:

  • Do you know where the absentee biological parent is living? – An absentee parent can be a misleading term because some parents consent to a step-parent adoption even when they are involved in a minor child’s life. However, in the vast majority of step-parent adoptions, there is one biological parent who has disengaged from the life of the minor child. Consequently, that person can be difficult to locate. If you know where the absentee biological parent is living, then you can contact him or her concerning the surrender of parental rights. If you do not know where the absentee biological parent is living, then you will need to serve that person with legal notice of the adoption via publication in the legal newspaper of record for the absentee parent’s last known place of address.
  • Is the absentee biological parent willing to sign a surrender of parental rights?– If he or she is consenting to the step-parent adoption, there are statutorily-required documents that the absentee parent must sign to terminate his or her parental rights. The absentee parent then has ten (10) days to reconsider and revoke the surrender. If the surrender is not revoked in ten (10) days, the absentee parent has legally consented to the step-parent adoption and may not object to the adoption at a later date.
  • Has the absentee biological parent supported the minor child during the past year? – Has the absentee biological parent had any meaningful contact with the minor child during the past year? If the absentee parent cannot be found, or if the absentee parent refuses to sign off on the adoption, his or her rights can be forcibly terminated if the absentee parent has failed to provide financial support for the minor child for a period of one year and the absentee parent had no meaningful contact with the minor child for a period of one year. Both conditions must be met for a court to rule that the absentee parent has given his or her implied consent for the step-parent adoption. The “meaningful contact” provision causes the majority of contested adoption litigation. What if the absentee parent sends a birthday card to the minor child every year, and nothing more? That’s contact, but is it “meaningful”.
  • Does the adopting parent have a criminal background? – During the course of the step-parent adoption, the adopting parent will have his or her fingerprints taken at the Sheriff’s Department, and a criminal background check will be conducted. If the adopting parent has a history of crimes against children, violent offenses or sexual offenses, the court will likely deny the step-parent adoption.

Over 22 years of Legal Service in Columbus, Ga – The Best Lawyer Near Me

The lawyers at Phillips & Sellers are licensed to practice law in the states of Georgia and Alabama.  Their areas of combined practice include criminal defense, DUI defense, divorce, child custody, paternity and legitimation issues, child support, adoptions, and guardianships. The firm handles cases in Muscogee, Harris, Chattahoochee, Marion, Talbot, Taylor, Troup, and Meriwether counties in Georgia, as well as Russell, Lee, Chambers, Tallapoosa, and Randolph counties in Alabama.

Contact us for more information about stepparent adoption and to schedule your appointment today.

3 Responses

  1. Richard Coriell
    April 18, 2018

    Good Morning,

    I am in search of finding a lawyer to help me adopt my 16 year old step-son. A little background: I am 41 and have three other children. I have been raising Hayden since he was two. I have been married to his mother (Amber) for 13 years, have been together for 14 years. I have been in the Military for 16 years. 13 years in Active duty and 3 years in the Reserves. His father is not in the picture and has not supported him at all since he left. He came down from Atlanta last year to see him in a play. This is the only time he has seen him since 2003. I know they have spoken a few times over Facebook, but that is it. I know he would sign his rights over to me. I would like to know the average cost and time it will take for a Step-Parent adoption. Thank you for your time and assistance.

    Very Respectfully,
    SGT Richard Coriell
    US Army Reserves

  2. John Carston
    December 22, 2021

    I like how you mentioned that it is important to consider the step-parent background and situation. A friend of mine mentioned to me last night that they are looking for an adoption attorney that can help them through the legal process as they are planning to adopt a child. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell him that it will be much better if they consult a trusted adoption attorney as they can answer all their inquiries.


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