Stepparent Adoptions in Illinois
There are many ways to add a child to your family. Some couples conceive and birth biological children while others adopt children from the foster system, through private adoptions, and from other countries. When an individual with children marries, whether for the first time or after a divorce, his or her spouse may adopt the children and become their legal stepparent. This is known as a stepparent adoption.
A Child Cannot Have Three Legal Parents
One of the most important points to understand about stepparent adoption is that a child cannot have three legal parents. Although many children and adults refer to a parent’s spouse as their stepparent, a stepparent only has legal rights to a child if he or she completes the stepparent adoption process, which is only possible if the child’s other biological parent voluntarily gave up his or her parental rights or if these rights were terminated by the court. Otherwise, a parent’s spouse can build a strong relationship with a child, but without the legal rights that come with being an actual parent.
When a biological parent voluntarily terminates his or her parental rights, he or she no longer has any right to parenting time with the child. He or she also cannot be required to pay child support, nor can he or she seek child support from the child’s other parent.
Completing the Stepparent Adoption Process
If a child’s other biological parent consents to the adoption, the stepparent adoption can proceed fairly easily. If he or she does not consent to the adoption, the court may conduct an investigation to determine if that parent’s rights should be terminated. The court may opt to terminate his or her rights if it determines him or her to be unfit, which could be the case if the child was neglected, abandoned, abused, or if the parent failed to financially provide for the child within his or her means or maintain parental responsibilities for the child.
If the child is 14 years old or older, he or she must also consent to the adoption. If an adolescent does not provide written consent to being adopted by a stepparent, the adoption cannot be finalized.
Stepparent adoptions are handled in county circuit courts. A family must file theirs with the court of the county where they live. A stepparent adoption can be completed in as little as 30 days because it does not have the same requirements as other types of adoption, like a home study or a criminal background check for the adoptive parent.
Work with an Experienced St. Charles Family Lawyer
A stepparent adoption is one of the many ways to build a family. Like all other ways to create a new family, it is important that you work with an experienced Kane County family lawyer through your stepparent adoption to ensure that all parties’ rights are protected and served. Call our team at 630-584-5550 at Shaw Family Law, P.C. today to set up your initial consultation with us.