In blended families, a stepparent will often become a large part of a child’s life. But unless the stepparent adopts that child, the stepparent has no legal parental rights. For this reason, many stepparents will seek to legally adopt their stepchild to bring the new family closer together.
What Does Stepparent Adoption In NC Mean?
Legally adopting your stepchild provides a lot of benefits…
- You gain all the legal rights and benefits that a biological parent has.
- Your child can inherit from you.
- In the event of a divorce, your parental rights to custody and visitation are protected.
Along with those benefits come some additional responsibilities to keep in mind, as well:
- You become obligated to support your child, even if you become divorced.
- Termination of parental rights for the biological parent also terminates that parent’s obligation to pay child support.
Requirements For Stepparent Adoption in NC
In North Carolina, you are required to be married to the biological parent for six months before you can adopt your stepchild. Periods of time that you lived together before being married do not count towards the six months.
After filing the petition, there are a couple of steps that are taken to ensure that the adoption is in the best interest of the child, and to ensure that the child would be in a safe environment. These include the following:
- Home visits by a social worker
- Criminal Background Check
- If the child is over the age of 12, they will have to consent to the adoption
Home Visits or Post-Placement Visits
In-home visits by a social worker, called post-placement visits, are generally required (although the court can waive that requirement if you have been married to the parent that has custody for at least two years). The purpose is to provide the court with information about your home and your relationship with your stepchild.
The most common question in a stepparent adoption is “Does the other parent have to consent to the adoption?”
Sometimes parental consent is required for an adoption, and sometimes it is not.
If the parent has met their obligations to provide support and be actively and regularly involved in a child’s care and development, then the law will protect that relationship.
Unfortunately, some parents have never been involved in their child’s life and fail to assume their responsibilities. When a parent fails to seize the opportunity to develop a relationship with their child and meet their parental obligations, then the child may be adopted without the parent’s consent.
Other parents may have been involved in the child’s life once upon a time, but things changed. Now, they have stopped paying child support, exercising visiting, and being involved in the child’s life regularly. Broken promises can do more than just hurt feelings. Those parents may be at risk of having their parental rights involuntarily terminated if maintaining that legal relationship is no longer in the child’s best interest.
Every situation is different. Consult an experienced family law attorney about your situation and options for protecting your child.
Contact Our North Carolina Stepparent Adoption Attorney
Stepparent adoptions in North Carolina can be a lot easier with an experienced partner at your side. Bobby Mills has practiced adoption law in North Carolina for over 30 years. Call us today at 919-306-2899.