Monday, June 9, 2014

Risks and Benefits of Initiating a Stepparent Adoption When the Biological Parent is Absent

When a child's biological parent is out of the picture for years and a stepparent (or another adult) is the child's "true parent", adoption may be considered.

However, adopting a child does require filing a suit in family court and having one of the following results: 

  1. (in a case for agreed termination and adoption) the legal consent of the biological parent whose rights are being terminated; OR
  2. (in a case for involuntary termination) persuading a judge that termination is warranted under the law; OR 
  3. (in a case initiated by Child Protective Services) obtaining a judge's order in a  termination case and having the child entered into the CPS "system"; OR 
  4. (in a case where the biological parent is unable to be found) having an attorney ad litem represent the absent parent and confirm that a diligent search does not find the parent's whereabouts and then getting a termination order from the judge.
In addition, the adoptive parent will need to have a background check and a home study by a certified and court-approved social worker.

When the process begins, there is always a risk that the biological parent may decide to become involved in the child's life again and even exercise or demand visitation.  In some cases, this could turn out to be a very positive thing for the child, even if it is disruptive to the "new" marriage or relationship which includes the stepparent.

However, in some cases, it can be a dangerous risk. For instance, if the absent parent has substance abuse issues, engages in criminal activities, or has mental issues which negatively affect the ability to safely parent the child, you would not want to open the door to their contact with your child. 

If you are considering requesting termination of the rights of an absent parent, you should keep these things in mind. In some cases, a confidential background check may be a good idea before initiating a legal process that could bring the absent parent back into the picture. 

A family law attorney who is familiar with adoption and termination can assist you in this situation. You should be careful to think through all of the benefits, risks and consequences that could occur prior to filing a suit.   This is important enough to plan in advance by a getting a legal consultation.

Kalish Law Office - Family & Business Law - The Woodlands, Texas 
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

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