When a divorced person with a child remarries, the child and the new spouse–now the child’s stepparent–may form a close bond. Especially when the child is of a young age at the time of marriage, the stepparent may play an integral role in raising the child, providing love and care, and offering parental guidance and companionship. As such, both the biological parent and the stepparent may agree that stepparent adoption is important. Here’s what you need to know about adopting your spouse’s child in Massachusetts–

Adopting a Child from Your Spouse in an LGBTQ Relationship

Stepparent adoption isn’t the only time that a spouse may want to adopt their partner’s child–this may also occur in an LGBTQ relationship, too, if only one party legally adopted a shared child or is the shared child’s biological parent. When this is the case, there is no issue of a parent relinquishing parental rights for the adoption to proceed. You can learn more by talking to our attorney about adoption for LGBTQ couples. 

Important Considerations in a Stepparent Adoption

Generally, a stepparent adoption is a much simpler process than is a traditional adoption where neither parent is the to-be-adopted child’s biological parent. For example, the need for home studies is waived. 

But that doesn’t mean that a stepparent adoption isn’t an intensive legal process. In fact, in order for a stepparent adoption to proceed, the other biological parent will need to terminate their parental rights. For example, consider a situation in which a mother and father divorce. The mother retains custody of their only child. The mother remarries, and the stepfather wants to adopt the child. In order to do so, the child’s biological father must terminate their parental rights, a process that may be voluntary or involuntary, depending on the circumstances. After parental rights have been terminated, only then can an adoption proceed.

A petition for adoption may be filed before the parental rights are terminated; if the biological parents agree, then the adoption can proceed; if the biological parent contests the adoption, then a motion to terminate that parent’s rights can be filed.

Finally, in order for a stepparent adoption to move forward, the stepparent must be the spouse of the parent who has custody, and the child to be adopted must have been living with the custodial parent and stepparent for at least six months. 

Call Attorney Heather M. Ward Today 

To learn more about adopting a spouse’s child in Massachusetts, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the law office of Attorney Heather M. Ward. Heather Ward Law knows how sensitive adoptions cases are, and will exercise discretion and care in handling your case. To learn more about our law firm and how we can support you, please send us a message telling us more about your case or call our law office directly at (617) 903-8955.