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The Stepparent Adoption Process

 Posted on August 25, 2017 in Family Law

Milwaukee stepparent adoption attorney, stepparent adoption process, stepparent adoption, parental rights, termination of parental rightsStepparents seek to adopt children for a variety of reasons—the most common being that they provide a substantial amount of care to the children. In this instance it is wise to adopt so that the law and others will recognize this relationship.

For example, if children rely on their stepparent for monetary support, and something were to happen to the stepparent, then the children may not be eligible for certain benefits. Likewise, the stepparent may not have needed access to educational or medical records for the children in the event of an emergency. Adoption can also make the child feel included as his or her last name can be changed to that of the rest of the family.

Termination of the Birth Parent’s Rights

The main issue to keep in mind with these types of adoptions is that a child can only have two parents. This stipulation means that in order for a stepparent to be able to adopt a child, one of the child’s birth parents must terminate his or her rights.

Sometimes a birth parent will agree to this without contest or has already terminated his or her rights. Other times there will be more of a fight as the birth parent will not agree to give up parental rights. It is also fairly common for a birth parent to at first agree to terminate and then later have a change of heart.

Parental rights may be terminated against the parent’s wishes when a court determines that his or her rights should be taken away. This kind of termination is usually the case when there is abuse or neglect.

If a judge does not find that there is abuse or neglect, or any other grounds that would necessitate termination, then a parent’s right will remain intact and the stepparent adoption cannot occur. Terminating parental rights is a significant decision that courts do not make lightly.

Other Steps Required

If you are seeking a stepparent adoption, you must also locate a licensed adoption agency that performs stepparent adoptions. The agency will perform an investigation of the stepparent, which will include:

  • Interviews;
  • Background checks;
  • Letters of reference;
  • Inspection of home where child lives; and
  • Psychological evaluations.

Once the investigation is complete and the rights of the other birth parent are terminated, the stepparent can petition a court to adopt the child. The court will grant the adoption if it believes the adoption is in the best interest of the child. An order will be issued stating that the stepparent is now the legal parent of the child and will assume all responsibilities as such.

A Milwaukee, WI, Adoption Attorney May Be Required

Many counties in Wisconsin require that an attorney be used for a stepparent adoption when parental right termination is contested by the other birth parent. Whatever the circumstance, a family law attorney should be consulted and retained so that the adoptive process is properly conducted.

Call our skilled Milwaukee stepparent adoption attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP at 414-271-1440.



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