Families form in all kinds of ways. There is the traditional nuclear family that begins with a marriage and leads to loving parents having children together. There are blended families created when people with children remarry. There are families where children live with grandparents and households where the children have no biological relationship with their parents or guardians.
All of these families can provide love and support for minor children. They may all also face unique challenges. A stepparent in a blended family may have a strong attachment to their stepchildren. They may aspire to preserve their relationship no matter what else may transpire. A stepparent could lose access to their stepchildren if their spouse dies or if they divorce. That can be a distressing prospect.
A stepparent adoption is one of the only ways for a stepparent to legally protect their rights in Tennessee. What is necessary for a stepparent adoption?
Someone must receive proper authorization
A Tennessee stepparent adoption requires the written permission of numerous different parties. First, a stepparent must discuss their desire to adopt with their spouse. Provided that their spouse approves of that desire, they may need permission from the other parent of the child.
Unless the other parent has already died or the state terminated their parental rights, they need to approve the stepparent adoption. They do so by voluntarily signing paperwork rescinding their parental rights. Occasionally, stepparents can work with their spouses to involuntarily terminate the other parent’s rights. Typically, extreme and dangerous circumstances are necessary thought for the courts to agree to involuntarily terminate someone’s parental rights.
Finally, a stepparent hoping to adopt their stepchild must seek the approval of the Tennessee family courts. People must submit proper paperwork to the courts. Judges hearing these cases potentially have the authority to waive several of the requirements typically imposed on those adopting children. They can exempt someone from the waiting period required before most adoptions and even absolve them of the need to undergo a home study because the child already lives with them.
The judge may also want to hear from the child if they are older and mature enough to have a reasonable opinion on the matter, so securing the child’s permission is also necessary. A stepparent adoption is only complete after the courts finalize the process.
Understanding what is necessary to formally become the legal parent of a stepchild could help someone protect their relationship with a child they love.