Stepparent adoption gives stepparents the chance to adopt their spouse’s biological child. While relatively more straightforward than a typical adoption case, stepparent adoption can still be complicated, depending on your specific situation. If you’re thinking about adopting your stepchild, there are some crucial things you need to know before going through the process.
You Can Only Adopt a Minor Stepchild
A stepparent of a child under 18 years old can file for stepparent adoption in Texas. The stepparent’s spouse should also be named as petitioner along with the stepparent.
You Need Consent From Your Stepchild’s Parents
You’ll need consent from your stepchild’s parents (if applicable) because the other parent must terminate their parental rights to your stepchild. Because your spouse is also a petitioner, they will retain their parental rights to your stepchild. You should likewise know that the court may allow you to file the adoption and parental termination case together if you need an order of parental rights termination before you can adopt your stepchild. The judge may also hear the adoption and termination case in the same hearing.
Your Stepchild May Need to Consent to The Adoption
If your stepchild is 12 years old or older, you need to ask for their consent, and they must give you a signed consent document before you can adopt them. You don’t need to get your stepchild’s consent if they are younger than 12. If the adoption results in changing your stepchild’s name, and they’re 10 years old or older, they must give you written consent for the name change. The court can waive this requirement if doing so would be in the best interests of your stepchild.
Your Stepchild Must Follow Certain Living Requirements
Your stepchild must live with you for no less than six months before you can be granted an adoption in Texas. But you can be exempted from this requirement if you request that the court waive this living requirement and they determine that it’s in your stepchild’s best interests.
Adoption is Permanent
You cannot suddenly change your mind about being the legal parent of your stepchild if your marriage ends up in a divorce. This means that you shouldn’t adopt your stepchild if you’re not ready for a lifelong commitment.
If you’re unwilling or unsure if you can continue parenting your stepchild if you divorce your spouse, then think hard before adopting your stepchild. Remember, you will still need to co-parent with your ex-spouse if you get divorced. In addition, since divorce does not terminate your parental rights and responsibilities to your child, you may still be responsible for paying child support.
Consult with a Seasoned Texas Family Law Attorney Today
If you are considering adopting your stepchild or stepchildren, you can learn more about the procedure and your options by speaking to the Texas family law attorney of Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC. Please call our San Antonio, TX office at 210-222-9132 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your appointment today.