Issues in Divorce: Stepparent Adoption

Richmond family attorneysStepparent adoptions are not uncommon. It is a natural desire for a family unit to be united legally as well as physically and emotionally. There are, however, issues to consider.

The Legal Effects of a Stepparent Adoption

A stepparent adoption terminates the parental rights and obligations of a non-custodial parent. As such, courts will carefully scrutinize a petition for a stepparent adoption and will allow a simplified procedure under certain conditions and will require a thorough investigation under others.

Simplified Procedure

Citing Virginia statutory law, family lawyers might report that a stepparent adoption can proceed without the need for an extensive investigation and hearing if:
• The other parent is deceased
• The other parent consents
• The custodial parent adopted the child when he or she was unmarried and consequently there is no other parent whose consent is required
• The identity of the other parent is unknown and cannot be determined
• If the person identified by the mother of the child denies paternity
• If the child is fourteen years of age and has lived in the home of the prospective stepparent for at least five years

On issue to consider; even if your case involves one of these considerations, the judge has the power to order a full investigation at their discretion.

An Investigation

Before the court will make a final determination on a petition for a stepparent adoption, it will require more information. Typically, this begins with a court ordered home study of the household where the child resides with the custodial parent and the prospective adoptive stepparent. Based on the report, the court will make a determination of what is in the best interests of the child based on the following factors, among others:
• The efforts of the other parent to obtain custody of the child
• If the other parent is ready and able to provide custody for the child
• If the other parent has maintained an ongoing relationship with the child
• The duration and suitability of the child’s current living situation

Contact Richmond Family Attorneys for Legal Advice 

Of course you want to do what is right for your child; be certain what you wish to do can be done legally and the best way in which to proceed. For any questions or concerns, call Smith Strong at 804-325-1245 (Richmond) or 757-941-4298 (Williamsburg).