Stepdad with his recently adopted son

Step-Parent Adoption Hearing Questions You May Be Asked

Navigating the emotional journey of step-parent adoption in Texas can feel like a blend of excitement and apprehension. It’s a significant step forward in creating a new family that often requires several legal steps, including court hearings.

As you approach the day of a step-parent adoption hearing, it’s natural to have a whirlwind of thoughts in your mind. You may even want to know in advance the step-parent adoption hearing questions you’ll be asked.

Let’s explore the common questions asked during a Texas step-parent adoption hearing, ensuring you can step into the courtroom prepared and confident in your family’s future.

How Does Step-Parent Adoption Work in Texas?

Before we discuss the questions you may be asked, it’s important to understand how the adoption process works. In Texas, step-parent adoption is the legal process through which a step-parent can adopt their spouse’s child. Once the process has been finalized, the stepparent will become the child’s legal guardian.

If you complete the adoption process, you will share all the parental rights and responsibilities with the other parent. The child will even have a new birth certificate, a new name (if desired), and the same legal rights as any other child in the family (including inheritance rights).

Necessary Criteria for Adopting a Step-Child in Texas

To file a petition for step-parent adoption in Texas, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • The child only has one living biological parent (e.g. the other biological parent is deceased).
  • The step-child can legally consent to the adoption.
  • Only one biological parent is present because the other chose not to be involved, can’t be located, or has an unknown identity.
  • The other parent is willing to sign documents releasing his or her responsibilities.

If the other biological parent does not consent to the adoption, you can still adopt your step-child. However, the rights of the other parent will need to be terminated, which is a drastic step that a judge would not agree to without carefully analyzing the situation.

To terminate parental rights, the court must find at least one type of statutory grounds for termination. Some of them can include the following:

  • Child abandonment
  • Failure to provide support
  • Incarceration
  • Child abuse

The court must also believe that terminating the rights of the biological parent is in the child’s best interest. The judge will evaluate the child’s age, physical and emotional needs, present living conditions, and any other relevant factors to determine the best decision for the given situation.

Inside the Step-Parent Adoption Process in Texas

Texas Law does not allow a child to have more than two legal parents, so the rights of one biological parent must be terminated before you can adopt your step-child. According to the Texas Family Code, step-parent adoption takes place in two steps:

  • Terminating the rights of the biological parent.
  • Adoption by the other parent’s spouse.

The first step in any adoption process is to contact an experienced family attorney who can help your family and answer any questions you may have. Once you have an attorney on your side, the next step is to file a petition for adoption with the court.

Once the petition has been filed, you must notify the other biological parent (either in person or by certified mail) about your desire to adopt the child. He or she will then have to sign documents and consent to the adoption. If the other parent does not consent, you will need to go through the family court system to terminate his or her parental rights (which could lead to contested court hearings).

Once the rights of the other biological parent have been terminated, you will have to complete the process by going to court so you can finalize the adoption. A qualified family law attorney will be able to walk you through the process and tell you what to expect at every stage.

Stepparent Adoption Hearing Questions to Prepare For

Now it’s time to review the questions you may be asked during the step-parent adoption hearing. Some of the typical questions you may be asked include the following:

  • What is your name and age?
  • What is your address?
  • How long have you lived in Texas?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • When did you and your spouse get married?
  • What is the name of the child you are looking to adopt?
  • How old is that child?
  • Does the child own any property?
  • How long have you lived in the same household with the child?
  • Are you prepared to raise and educate the child on your own?
  • Do you understand that once you have adopted the child, he or she will have the same inheritance rights as any child born to you?
  • Do you want to change the child’s name, and what do you want to change it to?
  • Do you believe it’s in the child’s best interest for you to adopt the child?

Your spouse may also be asked the following questions during the hearing:

  • What is your name and age?
  • What is your address?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • Did you listen to the testimony that your spouse just gave?
  • Do you agree with the testimony?
  • Do you agree to the child’s name change (if there is one)?
  • Do you believe it’s in the child’s best interest for you and your new spouse to adopt the child?

If the child is 12 or older, he or she may be asked the following questions:

  • What is your full name?
  • How old are you?
  • How long have you lived with the step-parent?
  • Do you agree to a step-parent adopting you and becoming your legal parent?
  • Do you want to change your name, and what do you want to change it to?

Some questions are straightforward and easy to answer. However, others may be more complex and require a skillful answer. That’s why working with a seasoned family law attorney is crucial for helping you and your family members on the path to adoption.

Find Help Answering Step-Parent Adoption Hearing Questions

Preparing to answer step-parent adoption hearing questions in court is an important step for achieving your adoption goals. Our knowledgeable and helpful family law attorneys are prepared to help you throughout the legal process – from filing a petition to conducting a home study to appearing in court.

We currently support aspiring step-parents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you reside in one of these counties, contact our Angleton office at 979-267-7660 or our Sugar Land office at 281-944-5485 to speak with a local family law attorney about your adoption case.

If you’re a step-parent who wants to adopt your step-child, be sure to get in touch with Parker & Aguilar today. We are prepared to help you navigate this exciting time in your family’s life.