A stepparent can play an important role in the development of a child, particularly if the child is young. In some cases, stepparent adoption may be an avenue worth pursuing. However, the success of this process will often depend on the wishes and the circumstances of the biological parents.
A stepparent can provide more emotional and better financial support than a biological parent and adoption may be in the best interests of the child.
The State of Georgia allows for stepparent adoption which is one of the more common processes in family law.
Embarking on adoption as a stepparent can be life-changing and should not be undertaken lightly. There are certain steps you should take. Since you are not the legal custodian of the child you will have to either obtain his or her permission or terminate the rights of the birth parent via a court order.
Two Scenarios of Stepparent Adoption in Georgia
There are two main sets of circumstances under which a child in Georgia may be adopted. The process the stepparent undergoes differs according to the circumstances.
1 When a biological parent is no longer living
If a biological parent is no longer alive, the spouse of the other biological parent may seek to adopt the child. This can only take place if the living spouse consents to the adoption in writing under O.C.G.A. §19-8-6(a)(2). This is known as the surrender of parental rights when one parent is no longer living.
The requirements for stepparent adoption are different if both of the biological parents are still alive.
If both of a child’s biological parents are still living but they are not married to each other, a child can be adopted by his or her stepparent only on the condition that the other parent voluntarily surrenders his or her parental rights in writing, while the other parent consents in writing to the child’s adoption.
If the child involved in the adoption is 14-years-old or over, the child must also consent to the adoption in writing under Georgia codes.
To begin the process as a stepparent who wishes to adopt a stepchild, you must file a Petition for Stepparent Adoption to start the process. In contrast to other adoption situations, only the stepparent seeking to adopt his or her stepchild must file a petition for adoption.
Obtaining a consent in stepparent adoptions may be a challenge. It’s a major step for a parent to give up his or her parental rights. The biological parent is terminating all responsibilities for the child and will no longer be liable for child support. He or she will no longer have any legal say or control over the child’s life. Even biological parents with little contact with their children may be unwilling to give up their parental rights.
When Parental Rights Can be Terminated
In extreme cases when a biological parent is deemed to be unfit or abusive or is dealing with a mental health or an addiction issue, you may be able to petition to have a parent’s rights terminated. In such cases, it’s necessary to show the biological parent is unfit to continue to have rights over the child. Proving that the presumed father is not a child’s biological father can also open up an avenue for legal adoption.
Cases involving stepparent adoption can be emotionally challenging and difficult. Hiring a Georgia family attorney can help. Contact us today for a consultation.