Stepparents can be a blessing to families with an uninvolved or unfit noncustodial parent. Stepparents step up and provide love and support to children when they join a family.
As the spouse of the custodial parent of a child, a stepparent can choose to legally adopt the child to permanently fill the role of parent.
What if the noncustodial parent objects to the adoption?
When a stepparent wants to adopt a child, a noncustodial parent can agree or disagree. If they agree, the noncustodial parent voluntarily has their parental rights terminated. Suppose the noncustodial parent does not consent to give up their rights. In that case, the judge can involuntarily terminate their rights if they fit certain criteria regarding their interaction with the child in the previous two years.
What happens to the noncustodial parent after the adoption?
With stepparent adoption, the noncustodial parent loses all parental rights to the child, including visitation. They also no longer have any responsibilities towards the child, including paying child support. The termination of the noncustodial parent’s rights and responsibilities is permanent.
What happens if the parent and stepparent separate or divorce?
With stepparent adoption, the stepparent becomes the legal parent of the child. If they later divorce the biological parent, they retain their parental rights to the child and their responsibilities for the child.
In addition to making a blended family feel whole, stepparent adoption is a wise way to protect both the stepparent and the child in the future. It protects the stepparent’s right to custody if the biological parent dies and protects the child’s right to inheritance if the stepparent dies without a will.