Stepparent Adoption In NC

Blended families are more common than ever. It is estimated the 1 in 3 Americans is part of a blended family.

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 and the child’s relationship with that parental figure is not protected.

For this reason, many stepparents will seek to legally adopt their stepchild to make the parent-child relationship official and to create permanence.

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.
  • If your spouse dies, your stepchild’s relationship with you is protected.

In North Carolina, you must be married to the biological parent and live with the stepchild for six months before you can adopt your stepchild. Generally, periods of time that you lived together before being married do not count towards the six months. Under some circumstances, the six-month requirement can be excused.

After filing the petition for adoption, several steps are required to ensure that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. These include the following:

Consent from the child if the child is age 12 or older.

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.

Criminal background checks for the adoptive parent

Release of jurisdiction – Generally, if any other state has issued a custody order, that state must release jurisdiction before the adoption can be completed.

Parental Consent – 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.

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.

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.

Termination of parental rights – Sometimes a parent 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 complicated. You need an experienced partner at your side. Bobby Mills has practiced adoption law in North Carolina for over 30 years. Call us today at 919-533-4025.

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Why Should You Choose An Adoption Attorney?

Adoption is a wonderful option for expanding your family, but the laws governing the process are quite complex. Working with an attorney with significant experience in adoption law will help ensure that the adoption process goes smoothly.

An adoption attorney will:

Provide

We will provide an unbiased explanation of adoption procedures and develop a legally secure plan tailored to your needs.

Assess

We will assess the risks involved, including determining what payments are permissible and ensuring that birth parents are treated fairly and their rights are legally terminated before placement is finalized.

Clarify

We will clarify your options, if any, for post-placement arrangements with birth parents, making sure your interests and those of the child are served.

Explain

We will explain your rights and adoption laws in your state or refer you to attorneys who practice in other states or internationally.

Review

We will review and negotiate the adoption agency contract to protect your interests.

You Should...

Contact

You should contact an attorney as early as possible in the decision-making process.

Learn

Learn about the specific types of adoption services the attorney provides. Ask what percentage of the practice is dedicated to adoption and how many adoption proceedings the attorney has handled.

Choose

Choose an attorney who is experienced in the type of adoption you are considering.

Know

Know what the attorney charges, how fees are structured and that you can afford the services.

Ask

Ask questions, request references, share your concerns and provide the attorney with all relevant documents. Ask for a written retainer agreement that outlines what the attorney charges, how fees are structured and other details regarding fees and fee payment.

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