Common Questions of Adoptions:
Do I need consent of the birth parents to legally adopt my step-child?
Yes, in all stepparent adoptions, consent must be given by the other birth parent before the proceedings can begin. However, if that parent’s parental rights are already terminated, then consent is not needed. Parental rights can be terminated within instances when which can be caused from abandonment, neglect, unfitness, or failure to pay child support.
Is getting consent from the other birth parent difficult?
It can be difficult at times to obtain the consent of the other parent because all parental rights are forfeited. However, without their parental rights, they will also not be responsible for paying child support.
What if the other birth parent does not consent; can his/her rights be terminated anyway?
There are ways to terminate a birth parent’s parental rights, which would alleviate the need for an adoption consent.
1. Abandonment: classified when a parent does not have any communication with a child and/or fails to provide financial support. For most states this constitutes as one year. If abandonment can be proven, then his/her parental rights can be terminated.
2. Unfitness: typically requiring a fitness hearing, the court will determine if a birth parent is abusive, negligent, fails to visit, mentally ill, addicted to drugs, or is incarcerated. If the court believes a birth parent is unfit for any of these reasons, sole custody is granted to the other birth parent; the adoption at this time would not require consent.
3.Presumed birth father is not the father: showing the courts that the presumed birth father is not legally the father can terminate that father’s parental rights. While these terms differ depending on each state, you only need to show the courts why he does not meet your state’s “presumed father” definition.
Same-sex couple adoptions:
Depending on the state, domestic partnerships will be granted adoption of the other spouse’s child. However, Wisconsin does not honor this. Other states, who recognize same sex marriages may allow the same procedures as opposite-sex couples.
This information is intended to be viewed as general information. Your individual situations or needs require consultation with the advice of an attorney. We are here to help you today.