While stepparent adoption can be less complex than adoption that involves unrelated parties when everyone agrees to the process, a Columbus stepparent adoption still needs one to file a written request with the court and an adoption hearing to be done. Like any other adoption, this adoption involves two steps, starting with the termination of parental rights before filing for an adoption petition. Columbus also has specific notice requirements that one has to comply with if everything is to run as expected. Should the other parent whose child rights are being terminated turn down the request, then the interested party can move to court, and that’s where a Columbus dissolution attorney comes in handy.

Here are some things to know about stepparent adoption in Columbus:

Your rights as a stepparent

The only way that a stepparent gets a legal right over his or her stepchild is through adoption. Otherwise, it’s the biological parents who have legal rights over the child. If you marry someone with a kid, you may enjoy some parental privileges, like assisting the biological parent in child upbringing. However, you do not have the legal rights over the child and can’t make medical or legal decision on their behalf.

Adopting a stepchild

If you marry a biological parent to a young child, you are likely to develop a relationship with the stepchild. In some cases, you may even view or raise them as your own. In such a case, you may want to give them health benefits or inheritance, so it’s only reasonable to want to adopt the child.

Stepparent adoption allows you to become a legal parent – but it needs the other biological parent to consent and renounce his/her parental rights by signing the “Adoption Surrender” before a notary public and two witnesses. You also need to file an adoption petition with the court.

If the other biological parent fails to consent

If one party (the biological parent) refuses to agree to your adoption, your spouse (the other biological parent) can file a case to terminate their natural rights on different grounds, including “abandonment.” In such a case, the other parent, with the help of a lawyer, proves to the court that the biological parent who is refusing to consent to the adoption is literally absent. Other grounds include neglect and unfit to be a parent.

Your rights after adoption

Once you adopt the stepchild, you become their parent and legal guardian. You also share the same rights as the other biological parent.

In a nutshell

  • You will need to get the biological parent’s consent to adopt a stepchild
  • If they don’t consent, both you and the other biological parent will need to prove to the court that the parental rights of the ex-spouse should be terminated on grounds like neglect, abandonment and so on.
  • Organize all your records and documentation including your financial status, relationship with the stepchild and biological parent and living situation
  • File a written request with the court – which is to be signed by both biological parents if they are in consent
  • Attend court hearings and comply with all the request including home visits, interviews, and counseling sessions.