Many modern families are blended: they contain children whose biological parents are no longer together. One of the best ways to make such families more cohesive and stronger is for a stepparent to adopt their spouse’s children. While a rewarding experience, stepparent adoptions face unique challenges during the process.
The Process of Adopting a Stepchild in North Carolina
To adopt your stepchild, you must be married to their biological parent for at least six months. The time you spent together with the parent and the child before the marriage does not count toward the six months.
You will then need to undergo the following:
● A criminal background check
● Home visits by a social worker
● The consent of the child (if they are over the age of 12)
However, there are some exceptions to these laws. The social worker home visits may be waived (in the discretion of the Clerk of Court) if you have been married to the biological parent for over two years. The purpose of such visits is to provide the court with information on your home life and your relationship with the child.
Terminating Parental Rights
When you adopt a stepchild in North Carolina, you gain all the legal rights and benefits of a biological parent. In North Carolina, the biological parents of a child are expected to provide for them whether that be through custody or paying child support. A parent cannot terminate their rights by consent or in order to get out of paying child support.
Therefore, certain circumstances must be present for the court to approve of terminating the biological parent’s rights. If a biological parent is not fulfilling their duties and putting the child in harm, the court may have reason to terminate their rights.
Parental rights may be terminated due to the following:
● Failure to support the child pursuant to a Court Order.
Additionally, in some cases, the other biological parent may not consent to the adoption. If the biological parent is providing support and is actively involved in the life of the child, they may not be willing to give their consent. Typically in these cases, the court will be on their side.
However, if the other biological parent is completely absent from the child’s life, then the process will continue. Once the biological parent’s rights have been terminated, their obligation to pay future child support is eliminated as well.
Seek a Dedicated Adoption Lawyer
Stepparent adoptions can quickly turn complicated without proper legal assistance. However, our Winston-Salem adoption lawyers at Payne & Associates have the knowledge and experience to help you through this unique process. We will ensure you have everything you need to make your adoption as simple as possible.
Call Payne & Associates today at (336) 585-8454 if you need guidance through the adoption process.