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In many family dynamics, a stepparent can have a large impact on the lives of the biological children of their spouse.  However, step-parents often face unforeseen hurdles when building a relationship with the children from a previous divorce.  When things go correctly the step-parent and the children can build a meaningful, loving connection.  Some parents wish to take that relationship one step further and adopt their step-children.  This process is typically easier and faster than traditional adoption.  With that said, there are still some considerations and prerequisites that must be addressed.

Basic Step-Parent Adoption Information

Obtaining consent from the birth parent.

Perhaps the most difficult goal that must be achieved is gaining a written consent from the original birthparent.  This can be problematic because it essentially means the parent is willing to waive their rights and responsibilities as a parent.  If the ex-spouse does not have a relationship with the children or children, they may be more willing to release their rights.  Obviously, if the parent has passed away, or their rights have been previously stripped, their consent will not be necessary.

What can be done if the parent won’t provide consent?

You still have options that you can pursue if the parent will not provide consent allowing you to adopt their children.  If the situation calls for it, you can request their rights be terminated based on abandonment, if they are an unfit parent, or if you can prove they are not the biological father based on DNA testing.

Abandonment:  There are a couple of factors that can help show the parent has legally abandoned their child.  For example, if the parent has failed to make child support payments for an extended amount of time. Additionally, if the parent has not communicated or seen their child for over a year.

Unfit Parent:  If there is enough cause to show that the ex-spouse is unfit, most states will conduct a fitness hearing.  During this hearing, the parent will be evaluated on their ability and wiliness to be an adequate parent.  If the parent is neglectful, addicted to drugs or alcohol, incarcerated, or fails to maintain a relationship with the child, their rights may perhaps be revoked.

Seeking legal representation

If you are or a partner is looking to adopt a child, it is important to speak with an attorney.  Burton Law Firm happily represents individuals throughout all of Utah.  Contact our office today to learn more about how we can assist your step-parent adoption case.

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