Most people know that Charlotte family lawyers handle adoption cases. However, not everybody is familiar with a stepparent adoption. All you need to know for the purposes of this article is that these types of adoptions are reserved for someone who has entered into a marriage with someone who already has children.
One would like to think that all parents, whether they stay together with their spouse or not, have the best interest of their children at heart. It’s hard to imagine that any parent would be willing to sacrifice the right to have time with their biological children to a virtual stranger. However, there are times when it’s clear the children would be better off with your ex and their new spouse. In situations like this, the absent biological parent agrees to terminate their parental rights. They sign them away so that their ex’ new wife or husband can legally adopt their child.
Cases like this are referred to as a stepparent adoption.
There Are Times When the Second Parent Refuses to Sign Away their Parental Rights
Oftentimes, our Charlotte family lawyers meet with a couple who are newly married. The spouse who has children wants their new spouse to adopt their children. However, it soon becomes apparent to your stepparent adoption lawyer in Charlotte that your ex is not going to voluntarily surrender their parental rights. These can be the hardest stepparent adoption to handle. The courts are very reluctant to strip a person of their parental rights. The problem is that, until your ex agrees to relinquish their control over their parental rights, you have trouble moving forward.
Ideally, if you have an amicable relationship with your ex-spouse, this is something you’ll be able to work out between the two of you. Perhaps if you offer them a visitation period, they can still be a part of their child’s life and they will be more willing to shine away the parental rights. Another way to convince your ex to agree to surrender their parental rights to your child is to offer them clemency on whatever back child support they owe. For example, imagine that your ex has not paid child support in four years. Their arrears are well over $60,000. You advise them that you will not pursue them for back child support if they agree to sign off on the stepparent adoption.
Your ex knows that if you pursue this matter in court, they will not only be ordered to pay the $100,000 back in arrears, but their weekly or monthly may increase as well.
What Will Convince a Judge to Terminate Parental Rights and Start Stepparent Adoption?
If the child’s other parent will not consent to relinquish their parental rights, your stepparent adoption lawyer in Charlotte must file a petition with the courts. This motion will essentially ask the judge to terminate the other parent’s rights regarding the child. It is very rare that the judge will want to do this. As far as the courts are concerned, the bond between a parent and child is unique, special, and healthy. They’re very reluctant to sever this bond without obvious reasons.
The only way your Charlotte family lawyer will be able to convince a judge to terminate the other party’s rights is if you can demonstrate the following:
- the other parent has been abusive to the child either physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially
- the other parent has been absent from the child’s life for a period of more than three years and has shown no interest in returning
- the other parent is serving a jail sentence that will last at least for the next seven years
- the other parent has in some other way demonstrated they are not fit to be a healthy parent to your child
Of course, this is not a complete and exhaustive list. There are many other factors that come into play when the judge makes their decision regarding the termination of birth rights. Usually, unless their presence in the child’s life will do irrevocable harm, the judge will be very strict about protecting both parents’ rights to the children.
What Happens Once the Other Parent’s Rights are Terminated?
Once the other party’s parental rights are terminated, the stepparent adoption procedure will continue. Whether you are single or have remarried, the courts are going to want to know that you can provide your children with this table and loving home. This is why they will conduct an at home survey to see if your house is amenable for a child.
some of the things this social worker will look for include the following:
- whether your house is clean and healthy at the time of the visit
- whether there are any unsafe or unclean conditions in the house
- the social worker will want to know where the child will sleep and see this room in particular
- they will look to see if you have outdoor space for the child to play and learn without risking getting hurt
These are just some of the things that the social worker will look at while they’re at your home during the stepparent adoption process. They are also going to check to see what kind of parent you will be. They do this without either parent present. Imagine the process by which the employers went through your background before they offer your positions or jobs. Some of the things that social workers going to look into include the following:
- your criminal backgrounds
- any professional licenses you hold
- personal references from neighbors and friends
- memberships in professional associations
- income tax returns you filed for the last three years.
It’s important to understand that if you do not answer any of these questions to the social workers, they may recommend putting on hold the stepparent adoption or suspending it for good. The last thing you want to do is answer one of these questions improperly or incompletely and have it jeopardize your adoption.
This is why we suggest you contact a Charlotte family lawyer as soon as possible after you decide you’re ready to move forward with stepparent adoption and start your family.