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The step-parent relationship can be a special one. Step-parents can play a big role in a child’s life and can often develop a relationship as solid as anyone held by the child and one of their biological parents. In fact, many step-parents wish to pursue the adoption of a step-child to legally recognize the bond that has been created. For this, a special adoption procedure can be initiated. An adult who is the stepparent to a child under the age of 18 can file a stepparent adoption case.

Step-Parent Adoption Process

The step-parent adoption process begins with filing your petition for stepparent adoption in district court or the statutory county court that has jurisdiction over family law cases. The court must be in the county where either the petitioners, the step-parent and their spouse, or the child lives. You will also need to pay a filing fee, which will vary by county. You can find out the fee amount by contacting the clerk’s office where you plan to file. If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you can request that the judge waive the fee by filing a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs.

In cases where the parental rights of the parent of the child that is not the step-parent’s spouse have not yet been terminated, then termination of parental rights will be required before the child can be adopted by the stepparent. If an order of termination of parental rights is needed before the child is eligible for step-parent adoption, then the courts do allow the termination and adoption cases to be filed together and proceed as one case. The termination and adoption can all happen at the same court hearing.

You may have to appear a few times in court as you proceed through the adoption, and termination, case. The court can also order an adoption evaluation so that everyone requesting the termination or the adoption can have their relationship with the child evaluated. However, it may also be the case that things are proceeding uncontested and the stepparent has passed the criminal history check so the court may waive the requirement to undergo an adoption evaluation. Additionally, if the child is 12 years or older, then they must consent to the adoption in writing or court. If the child is 10 or older, and the adoption will change their name, the child must consent to the change of name in writing.

Upon the finalizing of the stepparent adoption, the parental rights of the child’s other parent, the one not married to the adopting stepparent, will be terminated. The adopted child will be the legal child of the stepparent and all of the legal rights and responsibilities associated with that will be in place. For instance, it creates a right for the child to inherit from the stepparent.

Family Law Attorneys

A step-parent adoption can bring so much happiness and security to a family. Talk to the team at Navarrete & Schwartz about how we can help make this happen for your family. We are proud to serve the residents of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.