How to Take the “Step” Out of “Stepparent”

Are you ready to take the “step” out of “stepparent” and become a fully legal parent to your spouse’s child? With a successful stepparent adoption, you take on all the legal rights and responsibilities associated with biological parenthood—as long as you follow the proper procedures. The adoption process differs from state to state, so make sure you understand the steps you’ll have to take in Connecticut.

Step 1: Do your homework

Start researching the adoption process in your state long before you submit an application. While you’re off to a good start reading this overview, you may find that the nuances of your situation require a little more fact-finding. For example, if your child is aged 12 or older, you’ll have to obtain his or her consent before the adoption can be finalized. It can be extremely helpful to hire a family attorney and this stage and get detailed information about your particular circumstances—and focused guidance throughout the following steps.

Step 2: Prepare the paperwork

Once you’ve found the appropriate court in your county, you should ask them where you can find the required legal forms. The forms will ask you a series of questions about you, the child you want to adopt, and your relationship with the child’s parent. You’ll need to show several documents to prove the information you provide, such as the child’s birth certificate, your marriage license, and a copy of the non-custodial parent’s consent. A lawyer can go through the paperwork stage for you.

Step 3: Terminate parental rights

Because both biological parents have parental rights to the child, you’ll have to obtain the non-custodial parent’s permission to terminate his or her parental rights. If that parent consents in writing, you can proceed with the adoption. Otherwise, you’ll need to attend an adversarial hearing to terminate parental rights. It’s essentially a trial to determine whether you have enough legal grounds to terminate parental rights. If the parent is missing, you must try to locate him or her. A court may decide that the parent’s consent is unnecessary after you successfully claim that the absent parent abandoned the child.

Step 4: Submit the petition

You’ll have to submit your application with a court clerk in your county of residence. This involves filing the forms and supporting documentation you gathered in Step 2. Once your application has been received, the court will set a date for a non-adversarial adoption hearing.

Step 5: Attend the adoption hearing

During your adoption hearing, the court will determine whether a stepparent adoption is in the child’s best interest. A successful hearing will result in the issuance of a new birth certificate for your legal child. If you plan to change the child’s name—and you, your spouse, and the child all agree to the name—you can now make a request to include the new name in the adoption decree.

At Freed Marcroft, we take pride in our ability to unite and empower families in Connecticut. Give us a call if you’re planning a stepparent adoption. We will do everything in our power to ensure you receive the parental rights you deserve.

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