When you marry someone with children from a previous relationship, you aren’t just recognizing your relationship. You are also taking an important step toward building a family. For some stepparents in North Carolina, supporting that family involves another important step: adopting their stepchildren.
One of the primary reasons that stepparents adopt their stepchildren is that it gives them additional legal rights, and it allows them to continue their parental relationship even if their spouse was to pass away. Especially if the child’s other parent has passed away or if they do not have a strong relationship with their child, this can also give a child additional legal protection for their future.
First and foremost, stepparents must have the consent of their stepchild’s other parent in order to adopt them because adoption involves termination of their parental rights. If the other parent has abandoned their child or cannot properly care for them, you may petition to have that parent’s rights terminated.
In the state of North Carolina, stepparents must also have the consent of children over the age of 12 before adopting them.
Stepparents must also file adoption paperwork for the adoption. If the child’s other parent consents, the court may approve this paperwork after a waiting period. If not, the court will schedule a hearing to determine whether the adoption will go forward.
After approving the adoption, the court will issue an adoption decree and forward notice of the adoption to the North Carolina office of vital records. This will allow stepparents to apply for a new birth certificate that officially lists the stepparent as the child’s parent.