There is a special bond between a child and a parent. But sometimes that bond can be felt by a parent that is not biologically related to the child. If a parent’s spouse wishes to adopt a child, there are essential steps that must be taken to make this dream a reality, and it must be done correctly with little to no conflict. The Nashville family lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC have helped families across Tennessee with the stepparent adoption process. We understand the legal issues you may be facing in the adoption process and will guide you through the steps to make your family whole.
The Adoption Process
Stepparent adoption follows the same legal process as a traditional adoption with only a few minor exceptions. According to Tennessee law, a traditional adoption process includes a six-month waiting period after filing before it’s made final. During that time, a home study is required for the adopting parents, to make sure the home is suitable for the child. However, in the case of a stepparent adoption, the waiting period and home study can be waived since the court considers the matter to be a relative adoption. That means there is the assumption that the child has already spent time with the stepparent and a parent-child relationship is already present. Once the court finalizes the adoption, the legal relationship can begin. At this time, the birth certificate can change, the child can change his/her last name, and the stepparent will have all the legal rights and obligations of the child.
When The Biological Parent Doesn’t Consent
There are times when the biological parent may not consent to the termination of his/her rights. When this occurs, grounds for termination must be proven for the adoption to proceed.
According to Tennessee law, grounds for termination of parental rights can include one of the following:
The parent abandons the child.
The parent is not complying with the statement of responsibilities in a permanency plan or a plan of care.
The child had been removed from the home by court order for six months because of the conditions of the house; the likelihood the conditions will be remedied; the continuation of the relationship is not in the child’s best interest.
The parent committed severe child abuse against the child, the child’s sibling, or another child living in the home.
Imprisonment for more than two years for conduct against the child.
The parent receives a prison sentence of 10 or more years, and the child is under the age of 8.
The parent was convicted or found liable for the intentional and wrongful death of the other parent.
A court had found the parent incompetent to provide further care of the child.
Not only does evidence need to be established, but you must show that terminating the biological parent’s rights is in the best interest of the child. Only when the judge ends the parental rights will you be free to adopt the child.
Stepparent Adoption Reversal
Unfortunately, sometimes adoption doesn’t work out. Be it that the couple decides to separate, or otherwise, sometimes a stepparent adoption needs to be reversed. This is not an easy process, however, as adoptions were not designed with the intention of being able to change so frequently.
In general, a Tennessee stepparent adoption may be reversed if the stepparent can no longer care for the child’s needs, there has been fraud in the initial adoption, or the parents develop medical conditions where they can no longer care for the child.
In order for the adoption to be reversed, the parent or parents must petition the court to reverse the adoption. If the court agrees that the reversal is in the child’s best interest, the court will reverse the stepparent adoption, and the child’s legal standing, including birth certificate, will be as though the adoption never occurred.
Contact Our Nashville Stepparent Adoption Lawyers
Although you may already consider yourself your stepchild’s parent, you still need to take the necessary steps to be recognized under the law. Understanding the process and with a helping hand is the only way to adopt the child successfully.
At Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC, we know what needs to be done to make sure the process goes smoothly and have a successful solution. If you are considering adopting, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn your legal options.