Factors in Illinois Stepparent Adoption
Years ago, the nuclear family typically consisted of a mother, a father, and their biological children. Today’s nuclear families come in all different “shapes and sizes,” including single-parent, blended, same-sex, and extended families. Given the high rate of divorce and remarriage in the United States, it should come as no surprise that stepfamilies have become fairly common, with one or both spouses bringing children from a prior relationship into the marriage. Unfortunately, in many of these cases, the biological parent of the children has either passed away or is not an active part of the children’s lives, and the stepparent essentially steps into that absent parent’s role. Many families decide to take steps to make that role a legal one.
Under Illinois law, there are several factors that must be met in order for a stepparent to adopt their spouse’s child. The first factor is that the stepparent must be legally married to the child’s biological mother or father. This also applies to same-sex couples.
Another factor under Illinois law is that if the child is 14 years of age or older, they must consent to the adoption.
A third factor that applies is the state’s law that does not permit a child to have more than two legal parents. This means that if the child’s other biological parent is not deceased, they must either sign away their parental rights, have disappeared from the child’s life, or have been proven to be an unfit parent.
Adoption Process if One Parent is Missing
Even if the child’s other parent has disappeared, the law states they still have the legal right to object to the adoption. If their location is unknown and there is no way to notify them of the adoption petition by conventional means, then the courts will allow notice by publication. Service by publication is when a legal notice is published in newspapers of the area the parent was last known to have lived in. The notice is published several times and if the parent still does not respond, the courts will consider the adoption an uncontested one.
Biological Parent Objects
If the biological parent does object to the stepparent adoption, a skilled adoption attorney can help you present evidence to the court that shows his or her parental unfitness. This can include issues such as abandonment, substance abuse, physical abuse, refusal to pay child support, and any other grounds that may exist.
Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney
If you would like to learn more about stepparent adoptions, call Shaw Sanders, P.C. at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our dedicated St. Charles, IL adoption lawyers.