Getting Rid Of The "Step"

One positive aspect of the fluidity of family makeup in today's society is the development of relationships between stepparents and stepchildren that are as emotionally strong as the relationships the children have with their birth parents. In fact, it is common for a stepparent to form a stronger bond with a stepchild than the bond a biological parent has when the biological parent is no longer actively involved in the child's life.

As a result, stepparent adoption has become a common way to strengthen and formalize that relationship. I am Nathan A. Leach, an attorney with Herrin & Leach in Indianapolis, and I help stepparents take the emotional step of legally adopting a stepchild.

Why Stepparent Adoption Makes Sense

Beyond the obvious emotional bond that adoption offers, a stepparent adoption can be a smart move for other reasons, including financial reasons, as a way to provide other benefits to the child, and to protect the child from potential adverse consequences in the event of the untimely death of a biological parent. If you wish to adopt the child of your spouse, the parental rights of the child's other legal parent must be terminated. If the other parent is unwilling to voluntarily terminate his or her rights or if the other parent cannot be located, it is possible to petition the court to terminate that parent's rights to clear the way for a stepparent adoption.

If a legal parent will not consent to the adoption of his or her child, the prospective adoptive parent may still be able to proceed with the adoption if the noncustodial legal parent has abandoned the child, failed to support and/or communicate with the child for the requisite time period, and/or is unfit. The latter is referred to as a contested adoption.

If contested, a stepparent adoption can be an emotionally wrenching process, but it often provides the security the child needs and is worth the effort. If it is uncontested, a stepparent adoption can occur within a matter of months.

Meet With An Experienced Stepparent Adoption Lawyer

I invite you to schedule a free consultation in which we can review the facts of your situation. I can answer your questions and recommend the best steps to take.