In today’s world, many children experience a home where parents get divorced and one or the other parent remarries, which can make the child feel unwanted or not part of a family, and can limit the non-biological parent’s choices. Fortunately, the spouse has the option to adopt the children as their own after marrying the biological parent. This can help the child feel like they belong. If you are considering adopting your stepchildren, here is all of the information that you need to know.
So why would anyone want to go through the whole ordeal of adopting their spouse’s children? There are several legal and emotional benefits! First, the child will share the same last name with the rest of the family. This will help them feel included and a part of the family. It also shows that the new stepparent truly wants to be involved in their life. It also allows the new parent to act as a legal guardian. They can legally sign documents regarding the child and go through day to day tasks. The child will also be able to take advantage of insurance benefits that belong to their new parent. Finally, there are financial benefits. The adoptive parent will be financially responsible for the child, and the child is entitled to inheritance.
In North Carolina, the child has to be living with the couple for at least six months, and the parents must be married.
You will also need permission from the other parent. In many cases where the parent is not involved in the child’s life, this will not cause too many problems. Some parents might be difficult to find or not want to give up their rights, though. In any case, you will need an experienced stepparent adoption attorney. There are situations where you might not need permission from the noncustodial parent if the child was abandoned, but the laws vary from state to state.
The new adoptive parent must also consent, too. In most cases, the adopted parent wants to show their commitment to their new family and will happily comply with all requirements.
Finally, at a certain age, the child may also have to give consent. This varies from state to state, but in North Carolina, a child must consent to their new parent starting at 12 years old.
Adopting a stepchild or stepchildren means that the adopted parent accepts financial obligation for the adopted child(ren). This still applies even if the parent and stepparent get divorced.
Once a stepparent adopts their stepchild, the other parent is no longer responsible for child support. Any child support the noncustodial parent is paying will no longer be required. Also, the child will only be eligible for inheritance from the other parent if it is clearly stated in a written will; they will not automatically become one of the next of kin if something did happen because the familial ties are severed by the adoption.
The adoption process can be time consuming, but your stepparent adoption attorney can help make the experience as painless as possible. It’s still important to know what is required, though. The first step will be to hire an attorney. The attorney will examine your unique case and explain how the laws in your state will affect you.
Next, you will have to fill out the required paperwork. After you submit the paperwork, you will be informed of your court date. You will go to your hearing and talk to the judge. There will then be another date for the finalization of the adoption. Your lawyer may be able to attend the date of the finalization without you. At this hearing, you or your lawyer will receive the adoption certification. At this point, the next step is to get new birth certificates. This is done to avoid confusion since the child’s last name will likely change.
Remember that it’s extremely important to update your child’s name on all important documents. This include passports and other identification, health insurance documents, school forms, and all other information with their name. Forgetting to do so can complicate things and cause problems for your child. Getting a new parent and changing their name can be complicated so do what you can to make the situation as seamless as possible.
Luckily, in North Carolina, same-sex couples now have the same legal rights as other couples. This includes when it comes to adopting your spouse’s birth children. Same-sex couples will have to go through the same extensive process, but their requests are treated the same as a traditional couple’s request.
Implications for the child
Children have enough trouble going through regular growing pains without dealing with absent parents and new parents. It’s important to talk to them to explain things and get their opinion on what’s happening in their life. Ask how they feel about having a new name. Ask if they like their new parent. Finally, make sure that you are not rushing into anything yourself. You may think that the best option for the child is to have a second parent, but sometimes it’s best to take your time before making such big decisions. Don’t rush things simply to give your child another parent.
Adoption can be a long and tedious process, but the rewards can last a lifetime. If you are truly sure that you will be this child’s parent until the day that you die, it’s a great way to show your dedication and love. Remember, adoption isn’t the only way to accomplish this, though. You can always start by being there for the child when they need you.
Experience On Your Side
Bobby Mills has been practicing adoption law in North Carolina for over 30 years. He has helped many couples adopt children, and he can help with your case. Call us today or fill out our contact form to get started with your consultation.