Compassionate And Effective Family Law Representation

Photo of Professionals at Cairns Rabiola Vance, LLC

A child’s other parent must approve an Indiana stepparent adoption

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2023 | Family Law

People often think of adoption as the legal process by which a stranger makes a child a member of their family. However, many adoptions in Indiana involve parties that have a pre-existing relationship with a child.

A stepparent adoption is one of the more common reasons that an adult with no current legal or biological connection to a child would become their lawful parent. An individual who marries someone who has children from a prior relationship may develop a very strong attachment to and bond with those children. In the event of a major family disruption, a stepparent would have very few, if any, automatic legal rights.

If their spouse died suddenly, they might not be able to see the children once they move in with their other parent. If they divorce, they could face challenges when seeking custody rights. A stepparent adoption is a viable means of addressing those legal challenges, but both parents of the child will generally need to approve.

Uninvolved parents still have rights

Stepparents considering adoption often fulfill a parental role for the stepchild they want to adopt. They provide financial support and play an important role in the child’s day-to-day life. It may surprise them to learn that the other parent of the child, who may have limited or no contact with the family, can potentially prevent a stepparent adoption.

Unless the other biological or legal parent of the child has already died or the state terminated their parental rights due to some serious issue in the family, they have a right to decline a stepparent adoption. Approval from both parents will be very important to obtain early in the adoption planning process. However, a parent who does not make use of their right to spend time with a child might be eager to eliminate their child support obligations. They might, therefore, agree to rescind their parental rights and approve the stepparent adoption so that they no longer have any legal or financial responsibility to the child.

Courts need to approve the adoption

Simply having the approval of a spouse and certain paperwork signed by the other parent of a stepchild won’t be sufficient to grant someone legal rights as an adoptive parent. They will need to go to court and have a judge review the situation. Such adoptions will only move forward if the courts determine that the adoption would be in the best interest of children.

Seeking legal guidance, taking the right steps and being patient about the process will increase someone’s chances of success when seeking to adopt a stepchild in Indiana.