If your new spouse has children from a previous relationship, you might want to further unify your family by adopting them. This process is generally easier than adopting a child who is not related to either party, but it can still present some hurdles, depending on the circumstances. In Texas, to adopt a stepchild, one of the following circumstances must apply: the other parent is absent, deceased, unknown, or not involved in the child’s life. Additionally, the child must be in the custody of the parent to whom the petitioning stepparent is currently married.
Adopting a stepchild in Texas
Before you embark on this rewarding journey, it is important to understand the process. Here are the steps a stepparent must follow in Texas:
- File a petition: Every stepparent adopting begins with the stepparent filing a petition to adopt his or her stepchild, which should be filed with his or her local family court.
- Termination of parental rights: After filing a petition, your adoption attorney can move forward to the next step, which is to obtain a termination of parental rights from the absent parent, if the parent is known and still living. The other parent must consent to terminate his or her parental rights before the stepparent adoption can be done. If he or she refuses, the case will move to court where a judge will determine if the adoption is in the best interest of the children involved for the parent’s rights to be terminated.
- Social study: If the court determines that it is indeed within the best interests of the children for the other parent’s rights to be terminated, the next step would be a social study of the prospective family. This would involve a visit to the home, evaluation of employment and financial records, observations, and an initial screening with the parents and children. The results of this process are meant to assist the judge in determining the fitness of a stepparent to adopt his or her stepchildren.
- Amicus attorney: After the social study is complete, an amicus attorney will be appointed. This attorney is non-biased and appointed by the court to repeat some of the previous evaluations to help determine if the situation is best for the children and the family. The opinion of the amicus attorney and the results of the social study will both be presented to the court with a recommendation regarding whether or not the adoption should be finalized.
Adoption Attorneys in Katy
Adopting your stepchild is a wonderful way to bring your family together. While the process is easier than other types of adoptions, it still requires the legal assistance of a skilled adoption attorney. At Adams Law Firm, our Katy family law attorneys can greatly assist you in a number of ways and will ensure all paperwork is properly completed and filed in a timely manner.
Contact our office today at (281) 764-6087 to get started on your case.