Strengthening Blended Families Through Stepparent Adoption
Second marriages and blended families are common in the United States. It is not unusual for a child to have stepparents in addition to biological ones, and such situations present no real complications. Depending on the circumstances, however, things can become legally tricky when a stepparent wants to formally adopt their stepchild. Nonetheless, stepparent adoption can be accomplished with the help of an experienced family law attorney.
In Knoxville and surrounding areas, the firm to contact is the Law Office of Meghan A. Bodie. I provide a range of family law services and representation, with a particular passion for adoption law. If you’re ready to seek parental rights and formally adopt your stepchild, I can guide you and your family through the process.
Why Stepparent Adoption Might Be The Right Choice For Your Family
Every family is unique, which means there are a wide range of reasons why someone might want to adopt their stepchild. Here are some common reasons and benefits:
- Adoption can demonstrate devotion and long-term commitment, making kids feel secure and loved
- The stepparent will be able to make important decisions on behalf of the child regarding things like religion, education and health care
- Adoption can unify the family and allow the child to take on the adoptive parent’s last name
- Both the child and the stepparent gain inheritance rights from one another
Whatever your reasons for adopting, the logistics involved will depend on whether the child’s other parent gives consent or decides to contest the adoption.
Uncontested Vs. Contested Adoption
In Tennessee (as elsewhere), kids can only have two legal parents. Your decision to adopt necessarily means that the parental rights of the noncustodial parent will need to be terminated or surrendered (if they haven’t been already).
There are situations in which a noncustodial parent will consent to the adoption and voluntarily give up their parental rights. In such cases, the adoption process is relatively quick and easy. If the other parent has died or has never been part of the child’s life, adoption is similarly straightforward.
Things are more difficult if the other parent objects. In order for the adoption to proceed, it will be necessary to petition the court to involuntarily terminate the parental rights of the noncustodial parent. You must present compelling grounds for why the other parent should lose their rights. These could include abandonment, a history of abuse, drug and alcohol addiction and long-term incarceration, to name a few. If the court agrees to terminate the other parent’s rights, the adoption may proceed.
Working With An Experienced Attorney Is Critical
Legally speaking, you are not required to hire an attorney to assist with your adoption. However, the help of a good lawyer can greatly simplify an uncontested adoption and is a practical necessity if there are objections or other complications.
I have been practicing family law for more than 13 years and I am one of the most experienced adoption attorneys in the Knoxville area. Moreover, I am firmly committed to the well-being of my clients and the protection of children. I work hard to make the adoption process as easy, smooth and successful for you as it can be.
Discuss Your Legal Options During An Initial Consultation
Your adoption journey begins by learning about your rights and legal options. To schedule an initial consultation at the Law Office of Meghan A. Bodie, call me in Knoxville at 865-643-8626 or submit an online contact form.