How to Adopt a Stepchild in Texas
Stepparent adoption occurs when the spouse of a parent petitions the court to legally secure parental rights of their spouse’s child/children. The stepchild adoption process in Texas involves:
- Termination of parental rights
- Filing an adoption petition
- Undergoing a social study
- Appointing an attorney ad litem
- Finalizing the adoption
It is probably the most common form of adoption in Texas, as well as a joyous occasion in most instances. The necessary steps must be taken to ensure a legitimate future with the child, so it is imperative you seek legal counsel from an experienced family law attorney who understands the particulars of the court and the entire process.
Termination of Parental Rights
Before moving forward with a step-parent adoption, a termination of a living but absent parent’s parental rights must generally be obtained.
In many cases, an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights can be signed by the absent biological parent. If the non-custodial parent refuses to relinquish their parental rights, then the case moves to court in order to determine if the court has a basis for terminating those rights without the parent’s consent.
File a Petition
Similar to any adoption process, you must begin by filing a petition to adopt with your local family court. This can happen at the same time or after the termination of parental rights has taken place.
The next step includes a custody evaluation of the potential family. This process involves an appointed official to visit the home, screen all adults and children living in the home, observe the living environment, and evaluate employment and financial records of the prospective parents.
The information acquired is used to help assess the situation and determine the suitability of the stepparent.
Attorney ad Litem
Once the social study is complete, an Attorney ad Litem or Amicus Attorney is appointed to serve as an unbiased lawyer who will repeat some of the previous evaluations, such as observations and interviews. This attorney then presents their opinion to the court with a recommendation of whether or not to allow the step-parent adoption to be finalized.
Contact Coker, Robb & Cannon online or by calling (940) 293-2313 to learn more about stepparent adoption!