When you decide to marry and your partner has children, deciding to adopt your future stepchildren may be at the top of your priority list. Solidifying your family and ensuring you have all the rights a parent or legal guardian would have is essential.
It is important that you understand what your rights and responsibilities will be once you become a child’s legal parent, and there are several legal requirements you will need to meet before you can get court approval to adopt a stepchild. Here is more about the step-parent legal adoption process in Texas.
Requirements for Stepchild Adoption in Texas
- Residency and marriage requirements – You can only adopt your stepchildren if you are married to one of the child’s legal parents. You must have been living with the child for a minimum of six months before the court will grant your adoption request. You must also have bonded with and been actively providing for the child during the six months before the adoption.
- Consent requirements – Both legal parents must give their consent for the stepchild adoption. There are some exceptions to this rule, but under the law, a child does not have more than two legal parents, so one of the child’s legal parents must terminate their parental rights for the stepparent adoption to occur. If the child’s other legal parent is incarcerated, deceased, an unfit parent, or cannot be located or identified, you may be able to bypass the parent permission requirement. However, it is not only the legal parent’s permission you need to move forward with a stepchild adoption. If the child you are adopting is 12 or older, you may need to get the child’s consent to adopt.
How to Adopt a Stepchild Under Texas Law
Before you can make your adoption official, you need to go through the motions and take the required legal steps to formally adopt your stepchild. These steps include:
- File your petition – Start by filing your adoption petition in the local Family Court.
- Obtain parental consent – After filing your petition, make sure you get the child’s other legal parent’s consent or that of the child in writing. You may need to obtain a court order terminating the other parent’s parental rights if they refuse to give their consent.
- Finalize the adoption – After all the petitions have been filed, you will attend the hearing where the judge will ask you about your motivation in adopting the child and sign the adoption order, making it official as long as they believe the stepchild adoption is in the child’s best interests.
Contact a Texas Adoption Attorney for Help Today
When you become a stepparent, adopting your stepchildren may be an excellent way for you to solidify your new family bond. However, specific requirements must be met before your adoption is official.
Our dedicated Texas adoption law firm is here to guide you through the process and ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities once you become an adoptive parent. Schedule your confidential consultation with our team at Evans Family Law Group. You can reach us through our convenient contact form or by phone to get started as soon as today.