When you marry someone who already has a child, that child becomes your stepchild. You’re in a kind of precarious position as their new parent because you don’t necessarily have the same rights or responsibilities as the biological parents.
In some cases, it makes sense to adopt your stepchild, because you gain the same rights as a biological parent. Whether or not you can do so will depend on how involved your stepchild’s other parent is in their life and how you feel about taking care of your stepchild if your spouse were to divorce you or pass away.
What should you expect if you attempt to adopt your stepchild?
If you decide to adopt your stepchild, then you will need to go through a long legal process. To begin with, you will need to show that the other parents have given you consent. Your spouse and your stepchild’s other biological parent will both need to agree unless the other biological parent has passed away, abandoned the child and lost their parental rights, or had the court agree that their rights should be revoked. If the other parent doesn’t agree, you do have the potential to ask the court to get involved and terminate their rights.
If your stepchild is over the age of 12, you will also need to get their permission before you can move forward with an adoption. If they disagree and are over that age, then the adoption may not be able to move forward.
Why would you want to adopt your stepchild?
There are several benefits to adopting your stepchild, such as gaining additional legal rights. For example, if your spouse passes away now, you won’t necessarily have a right to see your stepchild. If you adopt them, then you will be able to maintain that parent-child relationship.
This is just one reason to consider an adoption. There are many others that you should discuss with your spouse and stepchild before deciding if you’d like to move forward with the adoption. If everyone is in agreement, it may be easier to move forward and complete the legal documents needed to create this legally binding parent-child relationship.