Step-Parent Adoptions/Termination of Parental Rights

Adoption is the legal process of establishing a legal parent-child relationship when the adopting parent is not the child's biological or birth parent. That means that once the adoption is final, the adoptive parents have all the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent-child relationship. That new parent-child relationship is permanent and is exactly the same as that of a birth family. An adoptive parent can be a stepparent or domestic partner of one of the birth parents, a relative of the child who has been caring for the child, or someone not related to the child by blood.

It is important to talk to an experienced attorney about your family’s options before starting an adoption. Every family is different, and in some cases, you may not need to go through an adoption.

Types of Adoptions

Stepparent/domestic partner adoption:

Termination of parental rights

Termination of parental rights is a court order that permanently ends the legal parent-child relationship between a child and his or her biological parent. This type of order terminates rights such as inheritance, custody, and visitation, as well as responsibilities regarding child support and liability for the child’s misconduct.

Parental rights can be terminated voluntarily by the parent(s) or involuntarily by the court to typically allow an agency, independent, or stepparent adoption to take place.

If the other parent does not consent or the whereabouts are unknown to consent for the purposes of adoption, then you will have to file a petition to terminate his or her parental rights, and in most cases, a citation to obtain a hearing date.

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