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How does stepparent adoption work? (Part 1)

As common as it is for Rockford parents to divorce nowadays, many will find themselves getting married for a second time at some point in their lives. When a spouse becomes a stepparent, questions of adoption and family law commonly arise. Is it difficult to adopt one's stepchildren, and what about the consent of their other birth parent? Let's take a look at the answer to this question, with the understanding that the information is not intended as specific legal advice, but as general in nature only.

First, some good news for potential adoptive stepparents. Stepparent adoption is possible, and is in some ways easier than other adoptions. Because the parents are already married, a court may waive requirements like waiting periods and home visits, helping to speed things along for the couple.

The other news, however, is that stepparent adoption almost always requires that the other birth parent give his or her consent to the adoption. Some may refuse to give their consent, as doing so terminates that person's legal rights as a parent. On the other hand, if the birth parent is not part of the child's life anyway, he or she may be willing to consent because the adoption will terminate any child support obligations.

Only if the birth parent has already lost parental rights -- perhaps due to delinquent child support, neglect or abandonment -- can consent be skipped. We'll take a look in a follow up post at some situations in which a stepparent can attempt to move an adoption forward even if the birth parent refuses to give consent.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Stepparent Adoption FAQ's," accessed on Nov. 4, 2017

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