Can You Legally Adopt Your Stepchild?
After getting married (or remarried) to someone with children, you may be wondering if you can adopt your stepchildren. In Kentucky, you can adopt your stepchild if you have:
- Lived in Kentucky for at least 1 year
- Permission from both biological parents
If you are adopting a stepchild over the age of 14, you will also need their consent. In some instances, you do not need consent from both parents. For instance, you may be able to proceed without permission from a biological parent if:
- The parent is ruled to be unfit.
- There has been child neglect, and a parent has been absent and abandoned the child for 12 months or more.
- The parent has been incarcerated.
In family law matters, including adoptions, acting in the child’s best interests is always the number one priority. When acting in the child’s best interest and considering the wishes of the guardians, courts can consider the following:
- The child’s relationship with each parent and the step-parent
- The health (physical, mental, and emotional) of those involved
- The care and nurture provided by those involved
- Each parent’s wishes regarding the adoption
- Any allegations of domestic abuse, substance abuse issues, or matters that may deem a parent legally unfit
- How the child will be affected by the adoption itself and possible changes in school and/or living arrangements
Should You Adopt Your Stepchild?
When you adopt your stepchild, you are making a lifetime commitment. Regardless of how your marriage works out, you have a commitment to your stepchild forever. Also, the parental rights of the noncustodial parent will be terminated after a stepparent adoption.
If you are considering adopting your stepchild, you should understand and reflect on the significant and long-term impact that taking this step will have on all parties involved. Adoption, of any kind, is a serious commitment.
Can You Adopt Your Partner’s Child Without Being Married?
Unmarried couples are not allowed to legally adopt stepchildren in Kentucky. Even if the child is the biological child of one of the partners, stepparent adoption is still not allowed for unmarried couples.
Work with an Experienced Adoption Attorney
If you or your spouse is considering adoption, you should speak with an experienced attorney. If you would like to challenge a stepparent adoption, you should also hire legal representation.
A professional can advise you on how to best move forward in your case. Adoption attorneys are also experienced in helping families navigate the adoption process with greater ease and peace of mind. While most stepparent adoptions are about filing the necessary paperwork, an adoption attorney can help parents:
- Handle the legal paperwork involved, from filing to serving the petition to receiving parental consent from the other party
- Navigate cases where the other parent does not give consent, as well as the ensuing process for terminating the other parent’s rights
- Prepare for court by explaining court etiquette as well as what they can expect
Established in 1988, the Law Office of Pamela C. Bratcher is dedicated to supporting our clients as they navigate their family law matters. For the legal representation you need and deserve, contact our office at (270) 977-8910 or via our online form.