How does stepparent adoption work?

In Tennessee and elsewhere, blended families seem to be the new norm. For a number of reasons, it may make sense for stepparents to adopt their stepchildren. In many cases, it really benefits the lives of the affected children. How does stepparent adoption work?

Traditional adoption cases can take years to complete. This is not necessarily true for stepparent adoptions. These cases generally take less time as certain requirements needed in traditional adoption cases do not need to be met. That does not mean that stepparent adoption cases are easy, though. They certainly have their challenges.

Before a stepparent can adopt his or her stepchild, it is necessary for the noncustodial parent to give his or her consent. If the noncustodial parent’s parental rights have already been terminated, then his or her consent is not needed to proceed with the stepparent adoption. If the noncustodial parent refuses to give consent, the only way to proceed with the adoption process is to seek to have that parent’s parental rights terminated. The court will only do this if one can prove that the other parent:

  • Is unfit
  • Abandoned the child
  • Is not the biological father

Tennessee residents who are considering stepparent adoption can help themselves by seeking out legal counsel before filing any motions in court. The state will not allow an involved parent’s parental rights to be ignored for the want of a stepparent adoption. An experienced attorney can help those seeking this form of adoption make sure they meet all the legal requirements before officially starting the process.