Adopting a stepchild can be a rewarding experience for both the parent and the child, but it can also be a long and stressful legal process. If you are interested in creating a legal parent-child relationship with your stepchild in Texas, it’s vital to work with a local adoption attorney.
Expanding your family is a complex legal matter, and many steps must be taken for the adoption to be finalized. Let’s look at how a step parent adoption lawyer near you can help smooth out the path toward finalizing an adoption.
Basics of Step Parent Adoption in Texas
In Texas, the process of adopting a stepchild is similar to the process of adopting any other child. However, there are some legal issues specific to stepchild adoption.
When the adoption is finalized, the step parent will have all the same rights and responsibilities as any other parent, including the right to make decisions about the child’s education, healthcare, and welfare. The child will also have the same rights as any other child in the family throughout the child’s life, including the right to inherit from the step parent.
However, children in Texas may have no more than two legal parents. Therefore, if you want to adopt your stepchild, one of the following criteria must be met:
- The child’s other biological parent has died.
- The child’s other parent is not involved in the child’s life or can’t be located or identified.
- The other parent is willing to sign away their parental rights.
- The child is an adult and consents to the adoption.
If your minor stepchild has both biological parents in their life and the other parent does not consent to the adoption, you may still be able to adopt the child if you can show the court that it’s in the child’s best interests, which is a difficult task.
Specifically, the court will need to terminate the other parent’s parental rights before the adoption can be finalized. This process does not simply make the other parent a “non-custodial parent.” Rather, it eliminates the legal parent-child relationship entirely.
This can typically only occur in extreme situations, such as if the other parent is incarcerated or has abandoned or abused the child. Convincing the court to terminate the other parent’s rights is a significant undertaking, and you will need the assistance of an experienced family law attorney for the best chance of success.
How to Adopt Your Stepchild in Texas
Filing a petition with the court is the first step in adopting a stepchild in Texas. There are two types of adoptions of stepchildren allowed under Texas law, and the type that you are pursuing will determine which petition you should file.
1. If the other parent is deceased or their rights have already been terminated, you will need to file an Original Petition for Adoption. This is the more straightforward route, as you will be able to move forward with the adoption without the need to terminate the other parent’s rights.
2. If, however, the child has two living parents and the other parent’s rights have not been terminated, you will need to file an Original Petition to Terminate Parent-Child Relationship and for Stepparent Adoption.
After you file this petition, you will need to notify the other parent of your intent to terminate their rights and adopt the child.
- If they agree to the adoption, they can sign away their rights.
- If they do not consent, you will likely find yourself in a series of court hearings.
Once the petition is filed and you have obtained the right to adopt the child, you must go to court to finalize the adoption. The court will review your petition and may ask you questions about the adoption. If the child is 12 years of age or older, they will be asked to consent to the adoption. The court will then sign an order granting the adoption and issue a new birth certificate for the child.
Why Work with a Step Parent Adoption Lawyer Near You?
One of the most important reasons you should work with a local attorney is knowledge of the court system. In my case, I help clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County with complex adoption situations.
- I understand the ins and outs of what each court looks for in an adoption case.
- I can help you gather and present the appropriate evidence for your case.
- I have experience presenting strong arguments on behalf of my clients.
- I have a deep knowledge of the adoption laws in Texas to understand how to apply the law to your case.
Plus, you will know exactly how to get in touch with me if an issue arises, such as a new development with your stepchild’s biological parent or new evidence to include in your case. I’ll be available to walk you through this challenging process.
Contact a Family Law Attorney Who Cares About Adoption
While it is possible to adopt your stepchild without the assistance of an attorney, the process is complex and filled with legal pitfalls. It’s in your best interest to work with a family law attorney who has experience handling stepparent adoption cases in Texas.
Plus, I am a child of adoption myself. I am passionate about ensuring that my clients take the proper steps to adopt their stepchildren. I am ready to provide you with guidance and support throughout the process.
Don’t go through the stepparent adoption process alone. With a local family law attorney in your corner, you’ll have a dedicated legal advocate staying intricately involved in your case from start to finish.
If you live in Fort Bend, Brazoria, or Harris counties, contact my law firm today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to schedule a consultation about your adoption plans. I invite you to find out more about the benefits of working with a step parent adoption lawyer near your area!