Not all biological parents have the courage to take care of their own children. Some may not even be capable due to specific circumstances. This is why taking on the parental responsibilities of a non-related child is an incredible decision and a noble calling. Yet, there are a few obstacles a stepparent must overcome before being granted the rights and privileges that come with adoption. To help you better understand the stepparent adoption process in Texas, you should find an attorney experienced in these legal procedures.

What Does It Mean to Adopt as a Step-Parent?

Stepparent adoption is the legal avenue a stepparent must take to adopt the child of their spouse. The stepparent will assume all parental rights and responsibilities of a birth parent and become the child’s legal guardian. This provides the child with a new birth certificate, a possible new name, and all other legal rights, such as inheritance, as other children in the family.

What Must I Do to Adopt My Spouse’s Child?

Filing a petition for stepparent adoption does not require much. However, at least one of the following criteria must be met to begin the process:

  • The stepchild is already an adult of 18 years of age or older and wishes to be adopted
  • The stepchild lives with the only living biological parent it has
  • The stepchild only lives with a single biological parent because the other parent is not currently involved in their life, cannot be located, or their identity is unknown
  • The other biological parent is willing to provide consent to releasing them of all responsibilities to the child

Additional requirements that must be met before a stepparent can adopt a child include:

  • The child must currently have lived or continues to live with the spouse for a minimum of six months before an adoption can be finalized
  • A child age 12 years or older must consent to the adoption in writing or in-person to the court
  • A child ten years or younger who will have their name changed through adoption must give consent in writing

Retrieving Consent from the Other Biological Parent

Some biological parents are reluctant to give up their rights to their children. For whatever reason, they refuse to relinquish parental rights, making it more difficult for a stepparent to adopt. In this situation, a stepparent and their spouse can take drastic action by taking the opposing parent to court in an attempt to have their parental rights terminated.

A Texas court will not terminate the rights of a biological parent without first considering what is in the best interests of the child. The court will need to find at least a single statutory ground for termination before complying with the petition. Grounds for parental rights termination can include:

  • Abandonment
  • Incarceration
  • Failure to provide child support
  • Child abuse or neglect

Determining the best interests of the child must also be considered:

  • How old the child is
  • What the child’s physical and emotional needs are
  • The current living situation of the child
  • Other factors relevant to the case

Contact a Fort Worth, TX Family Lawyer

No matter where you are in the adoption process, an experienced Dallas, TX stepparent adoption attorney can only help your case. Contact the Clark Law Group for help with your current legal adoption needs at 469-765-3910 and set up an appointment today.