Every family is unique. At the Setzer Law Firm PLLC, we ‘ve represented families of all types and sizes in family law matters. When families blend after a divorce or the death of a spouse, we often hear from parents who are interested in stepparent adoption. They are looking for ways to solidify their relationships, make bonds that already exist “official,” share a common family name and care for their children in the best way possible. We can help.
Starting the Stepparent Adoption Process
In Texas, the stepparent adoption process starts when the child’s stepparent and their spouse both file legal paperwork together:
- If the child’s biological parent has passed away or there is an existing court order for termination of parental rights, the stepparent and spouse file an “Original Petition for Adoption.”
- If the child’s biological parent is living, the stepparent and spouse file an “Original Petition to Terminate Parent-Child Relationship and for Adoption.”
The difference is because Texas law requires that the child’s relationship with the noncustodial biological parent be legally ended (“terminated”) before the court will grant the stepparent adoption.
What to Expect at a Stepparent Adoption Hearing
The court assigns a date for a hearing. Both the stepparent and their spouse must appear at the hearing, as well as the child if he or she is over 12 years old. If the child is older than 12, the court will ask them if they consent to the adoption. They must consent in writing or in court for the adoption to go forward.
It’s normal to be nervous about the hearing, but your attorney will guide you through every step of the way. He or she will answer a lot of your questions beforehand, can meet you outside of the courtroom, and may do a lot of the speaking for you.
If everything goes smoothly, the court will:
- Legally end the parent-child relationship between the child and the child’s noncustodial parent.
- Make the child the son or daughter of the stepparent
- Create the child’s right to inherit from the stepparent just like a biological child would if the stepparent should pass away
Sometimes things are complicated, however, like when the noncustodial biological parent may not fully agree with the termination of parental rights. That why it’s good to have a lawyer on your side. Your attorney can help if the court decides to appoint a guardian ad litem, order a child custody evaluation or take other steps.
Get Legal Help With Stepparent Adoption
If your family is thinking about a stepparent adoption, talk with a lawyer. Contact Setzer Law Firm PLLC to learn more about your options and what we can do for you.