For many families, making the relationship between a child and a step parent official is a way of formalizing the love, trust and respect that exists between them. This alone is often reason enough to go through the process.
In addition to the familial benefits, however, adoption confers all the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent-child relationship to the adoptive parent and allows the child to receive the legal advantages and protections that come with it. When the adoption is finalized, the relationship is permanent and legally identical to that of a biological parent and child.
The process for adopting a step child varies according to your situation. In all cases, the person adopting the child must be legally married to or registered as the domestic partner of the child’s birth parent. Consulting a knowledgeable family law attorney at the outset will ensure that the adoption process proceeds as quickly and smoothly as possible.
If you are currently married or in a domestic partnership with the child’s parent that existed at the time of the child’s birth, your case is defined as a step parent adoption to confirm parentage. In this case, you will not have to attend a court hearing or undergo investigation by a social worker. Otherwise, you have a stepparent/domestic partner adoption case that will require both an investigation and court hearing.
Adopting a step child grants the rights and responsibilities of contributing to the child’s upbringing, education and health care. It is the most common type of adoption, and the process has many steps that you will have to follow. An experienced family lawyerwith a background in adoption will be able to guide you through the necessary actions and ensure that everything you need to do is accounted for.