In North Carolina, people who have gotten divorced will frequently remarry. If they have a child from the previous marriage, the new spouse might want to adopt their stepchild. This is generally a positive step, but there are laws governing it. People who are thinking about adopting a stepchild and any parent who has concerns about it should be aware of what the law says about this potentially challenging issue.
For stepparents who want to adopt a stepchild, it is required that the spouse with legal and physical custody and the stepparent live with the child for the six months before pursuing the adoption. The stepparent can also file a petition to adopt the child if the spouse has died or is declared incompetent if, prior to death or declaration of incompetence, he or she was the legal and physical custodian of the child and the child lived with the stepparent in the six months before filing for adoption. There can also be a stepparent adoption for cause even if the stepparent does not meet the above criteria.
The child can also have a say in the process if he or she is at least 12-years-old. The child can deny the attempted adoption if they are 12 or older. When the stepparent’s spouse wants to consent to the adoption, it must be signed and acknowledged in the presence of a person who has the authorization to take these acknowledgments or administer oaths. The statements must specify that there is consent to the adoption, that it is being done voluntarily, and that it will not end the legal relationship between the parenting consenting to the adoption and the child.
It is crucial to remember that the adoption will terminate the legal relationship between the child and the other parent. This means that any support, visitation, custody and communication will end. Past due support must still be paid unless there is an agreement that it does not. In many situations, stepparent adoption can be beneficial to the child. Still, that does not mean it is an easy process. There are times when the other parent objects to the former spouse’s new husband or wife adopting the child. There could be factors that slow or endanger the process. With these complex cases, it is wise to have assistance from the start to try and achieve the desired goal.