Clarksville Adoption Attorney
Stepparents and stepchildren can often develop close bonds. However, after a divorce, a stepparent may have few, if any, legal rights to continue to see a child and maintain a relationship. In some situations, a stepparent may want to adopt a stepchild to solidify their parent-child relationship and obtain legal parental rights.
No matter how close you may be with your stepchild, you can only ensure parental rights through legal adoption. However, stepparent adoption is only possible under specific circumstances and if you take the required steps. If you are considering the adoption of your stepchild, you should not wait to discuss your options with our experienced Tennessee adoption attorney at McFarland Law.
The biological parent must relinquish their parental rights and consent to the adoption for it to proceed. For example, if a child always lives with their mother and stepfather and has no real relationship with their biological father, the biological father may consent to give up parental rights so the stepfather can adopt the child.
There are situations in which a biological parent refuses to consent despite not being involved in the child’s life. In this case, the stepparent would need to prove that there are legal grounds for the court to terminate the rights of the biological parent. Such grounds can include:
Abandonment of the child
Noncompliance with parental responsibilities under a parenting plan
The child was removed from the biological parent’s home for at least six months due to unfit conditions
The parent engaged in abuse against the child or another child in the household
The parent went to prison for at least two years for crimes involving the child
The child is younger than eight years old and the parent is sentenced to ten or more years in prison for any crime
The parent was found civilly or criminally responsible for the death of the other parent
The parent was found incompetent by the court to care for the child
A continued relationship with the parent is otherwise not in the child’s best interest
If a stepparent can provide sufficient evidence to prove that termination is in the child’s best interest, the court can terminate the rights of the biological parent to allow for the stepparent adoption.
The stepparent adoption process is extremely similar to the non-relative adoption process, with important exceptions. Unlike a traditional adoption, there are no necessary home visits to ensure the home is a suitable place for the child. There is also no six-month waiting period before the court will finalize the adoption. This is because the law presumes the child already resides in the home and has a parent-child relationship with the stepparent. However, the adopting stepparent must complete all the necessary paperwork and adhere to any specific requirements set out by the court. Once the adoption is final, the stepparent will then have all legal rights and responsibilities of a legal parent.
Adult Adoption and Private Adoption in Tennessee
Recently adult adoptions have become much more prevalent due to the realities of today’s nontraditional family archetype. For instance, sometimes a step-parent or other person raises a child to adulthood, but an adoption was never undertaken. A relationship has developed whereby the parties want to take that extra step and an adult is adopted by another adult. In that case, no biological parents are required to give permission or even be notified. It is done by agreement, and the Judge enters a final decree of adoption. There is no waiting period, and no requirement for a home study.
Traditional or private adoptions are also very common. In this type of adoption birth parents, or more often a birth mother, is in some way introduced to a couple or individual wishing to adopt and the Parties handle the arrangements themselves. Finalization cannot take place prior to six months passing from the date of placement of the child with the adopting parties and the completion of a home study. A home study is required in cases where the adoptive parents and the child are not related. The home study process can feel quite daunting at first, however, it is not a reason to be anxious. The agency or social worker who conducts the home study is looking for a clean, adequate, safe and loving home environment for the coming child. You do not need to own a home and will not be "disqualified" from adopting if your home is not spotless. You will be required to fill out paperwork, speak with the people doing the study, and normally they will come to your home at least once prior to the adoption, and one to two times after placement. They will then write a report for the Court.
Adoption can be highly beneficial for families in many situations. You want to ensure you complete the process properly, so you should speak with an experienced adoption attorney in Tennessee. Contact McFarland Law by calling (931) 516-9009 or contacting us online to set up a consultation today.