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What Is a Stepchild Adoption?

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A stepchild adoption occurs when a stepparent legally adopts their stepchild as their own. When you marry someone who has kids, you become a stepparent, but you have no legal standing or authority when it comes to your new spouse’s existing children. An adoption names you as the child’s legal parent, which conveys parental rights to you.

Stepchild adoptions are complicated, and many people don’t understand the legal requirements for a stepchild adoption to go through. Contact our law firm if you are considering a stepchild adoption to ensure that you know what the process is and that your situation qualifies.

Does the Child’s Other Parent Have to Consent to the Adoption?

In most cases, the child’s other biological parent must consent to the stepchild’s adoption for it to move forward. This is to ensure that the biological parent is not getting stripped of any rights. If the child’s other biological parent is dead, the courts are able to proceed with the adoption process more quickly. In cases where the other biological parent is not able to be contacted, there may be a way to satisfy the court’s requirements for notification so the adoption can proceed.

How Does a Stepchild Adoption Affect Child Support?

If you have an existing child support order where your child’s biological parent is paying child support, it is important to understand that going forward with a stepchild adoption will terminate that support order. That is because when the adoption is finalized, the other parent is no longer a legal parent of the child and therefore carries no financial responsibility for the child. The courts now expect the new legal parent (the stepparent) to assume the financial responsibilities.

What Happens If We Get a Divorce After the Adoption Is Finalized?

Another aspect to be aware of before you go forward with a stepchild adoption is that if you were to divorce after the adoption is finalized, the stepparent would be able to get custody and visitation rights and could also get or receive financial support. Because the stepparent is now a legal parent of the child, they have the same rights in a divorce when it comes to child custody and child support as a biological parent would. This is one reason why it is important to take stepchild adoption very seriously and ensure that you are prepared for the long-term ramifications.

Contact our law firm at 931-236-2711 to find out more about what the Tennessee laws and guidelines are when it comes to stepchild adoption and what you need to be aware of. We can also help you track down a biological parent to gain consent and ensure that everyone involved understands what happens after the adoption is complete.

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