Stepparent Adoption - Why It’s Easier Than You Might Think
Increasingly, many families contact Rick with questions like, can my husband adopt my child? If I get married, can my spouse adopt my child? What do I need to do if I’m interested in adopting my wife’s child?
Many stepparents have a special relationship with their spouses’ children, even sharing in daily parenting responsibilities and decision-making. But without adoption, these relationships are not legally recognized or protected.
If you are helping to raise your spouse’s biological children, stepparent adoption is a simple way to bolster your relationship, protect your family and provide your children with a sense of stability. With decades of experience in South Carolina stepparent adoptions, Rick Corley can provide the legal services and expertise you need to formally complete your blended family.
Stepparent Adoption in South Carolina
Rick has years of experience completing stepparent adoptions for South Carolina families. He can provide all of the services you need through each step of the process, including:
- Adoption education and consultation: Rick will meet with you to talk about your family’s circumstances and explain the stepparent adoption process in South Carolina. He will gather the information he needs from you and give you the legal advice you need throughout the process.
- Filing the legal paperwork with the court: Rick will file an adoption petition to initiate the legal adoption process and complete all of the other legal paperwork that needs to be filed with the court.
- Termination of parental rights: In order to legally complete a stepparent adoption, the child’s noncustodial parent’s rights need to be terminated. The parent may either sign a voluntary consent to termination of parental rights, or their rights may be involuntarily terminated by the court. Rick will work with you to complete this process based on your family’s situation.
- Financial assistance: The state of South Carolina often subsidizes relative and stepparent adoption costs. Rick can help you determine whether you are eligible to receive state funding to help offset your adoption expenses and can help you obtain that financial assistance.
- Finalization of the adoption in court: The last step to legally complete a stepparent adoption is finalization. Rick will arrange and notify you of the date and time of your finalization hearing, where the judge will sign the final adoption decree.
Stepparent adoption, like any other adoption, involves terminating the parental rights of a biological parent and establishing a new, legal parent-child relationship between the adopting parent and his or her stepchild.
What is required to adopt a spouse’s child?
While stepparent adoption affords you the same parental rights as any other form of adoption, it is often a much simpler and more streamlined process. Here are some of the important differences between stepparent adoption and other types of adoption:
- You are likely already raising the child that you plan to adopt. Most stepparents begin the legal adoption process to formalize the relationship they have already established with their stepchild. Unlike in other forms of adoption, this means you do not have to search for an adoption opportunity, which can significantly reduce the length of the adoption process.
- You will not have to complete the home study. The home study is an in-depth assessment of prospective adoptive parents that includes background checks, home inspections, and interviews with members of the adoptive family. In South Carolina, stepparents are exempt from these requirements unless otherwise directed by the court.
- You will not need to file an accounting with the court. Most adoptive parents are required to file an accounting with the court explaining all payments made in connection with the adoption. This requirement is waived for stepparent adoptions.
- You will not wait as long for your finalization hearing. The South Carolina adoption process typically involves a 90-day waiting period between filing the adoption petition and finalizing the adoption. This 90-day period is not required in stepparent adoptions, so you can get your adoption finalized quicker.
Because these adoption requirements are waived in stepparent adoptions, Rick can often help you complete the entire process in a matter of weeks — making stepparent adoption an efficient and cost-effective way to ensure your relationship with your stepchild is legally recognized.
About Stepparent Adoption
Stepparent adoption is defined as the adoption of a child by his or her biological parent’s spouse. Often in these scenarios, the adoptive stepparent has established a deep, meaningful relationship with his or her stepchild and is already acting as a parent for the child. Adoption is the legal process that gives that stepparent full parental rights and responsibilities.
Without stepparent adoption, these stepparents have few legal rights, if any, for the children they are raising, which can make it difficult to successfully parent that child. By completing the legal adoption process, they will have equal parental rights as the child’s biological parent.
There are many reasons to consider adopting your husband’s or wife’s child. By gaining parental rights for your child, you can:
- Protect the child in case of your spouse’s death. As a stepparent, if something were to happen to your spouse, you could face custody challenges from your child’s other biological family members, including the other biological parent. You can prevent these challenges by establishing a legal parent-child relationship.
- Receive certain financial benefits. Stepparent adoption allows you to claim your stepchild on your taxes and receive certain insurance benefits. It also allows entitles your child to social security benefits and helps protect his or her inheritance rights.
- Perform everyday parenting tasks. Stepparent adoption simplifies many day-to-day tasks, like picking your child up from school, enrolling in classes, and more. In addition, it allows you to make medical decisions for your child and obtain his or her medical records.
- Provide your family with a sense of security. Most importantly, the legal adoption process helps provide a sense of completeness and permanency to everyone in your family — especially your child.
Stepparent adoption is an easy way to establish the parental rights you need and provide your family with the stability they deserve. However, an experienced adoption attorney like Rick Corley is required to ensure the adoption is completed safely and all South Carolina laws are followed in the process.
To learn more about stepparent adoption in South Carolina and to discuss your family’s legal needs, contact Rick today to schedule a consultation.