Can Stepparents Adopt Their Stepchildren?

When divorces happen, new relationships may begin between stepparents and children. Often stepparents seek to make this relationship official by formally adopting their stepchildren

Under New York law, stepparents have the right to adopt their stepchildren, but only if the non-custodial parent either gives up his or her parental right, or a court orders the termination of this right. This can be a difficult process that requires legal fees and determination, but can be tremendously rewarding for the stepparents and children. 

The first step any stepparent seeking adoption would take is to seek the consent of the non-custodial birth parent. When that parent consents to the adoption, he or she gives up all parental rights and responsibilities. Some parents who are not present in their children’s lives and do not wish to be saddled with support obligations welcome this opportunity. Others, however, do not wish to lose their parental rights to their children. In these situations, a stepparent would need to seek a court order terminating the parent’s rights. 

To do this, a stepparent would need to prove that the non-custodial parent has either abandoned his or her children or is not fit to serve as a parent. For instance, if a stepparent can show that the birth parent has not provided support or made contact with the child, a court may deem that parent to have abandoned his or her children. Alternatively, if the non-custodial parent is abusive or otherwise unfit to parent, this might also be grounds to terminate his or her parental rights. 

For assistance with the legal aspects of adopting your stepchildren, meet with the dedicated family law attorneys at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates in New York.

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