When You Want to Be a Family Again-Stepparent Adoptions in Texas
There are a number of reasons why you may want to consider having your new spouse legally adopt your children from a previous marriage. It may be necessary to get them covered under your spouse's health insurance plan at work. It will also ensure that your children are legal beneficiaries of the estate that you and your spouse are building. It can also create a new sense of family, providing security and comfort to your minor children. This blog post provides an overview of the stepparent adoption process in Texas.
The Steps in the Process
To legally adopt your stepchildren in Texas, you must first file a petition for adoption. In addition, you must secure the termination of the parental rights of the former spouse and submit to a social study. A lawyer will also be appointed to represent the interests of the child.
The initial petition seeks to accomplish two objectives: to terminate the rights of the natural parent and to transfer all legal parental rights to the stepparent. Though you can prepare and file a petition before a child is born, the courts will typically not grant such a request until the child is at least five days old. There is, however, nothing that prohibits you from seeking to adopt a minor child at any age.
Once your petition is filed, you must secure the termination of the parental rights of the biological parent. This can be done voluntarily or involuntarily. The process can be simple where the natural parent simply signs a legal document relinquishing all rights. However, if the parent cannot be located, or if the parent contests the termination of parental rights, the process can be lengthy. An adoption will not be granted until parental rights have been terminated.
Under the Texas Family Code, a stepparent seeking to adopt children must submit to a social study. The study involves an assessment of the relationship between the child, the parent and the stepparent. The study also looks at the financial condition of the biological and the adoptive parent.
The court also appoints what is known as an amicus attorney, who is charged with determining what is in the best interests of the child. The amicus attorney usually begins work once the social study is done, and typically uses the social study as a guideline for determining the child's best interests.
Contact Our Office Today
At Pfister Family Law, we bring more than 20 years of experience to men and women throughout north Texas. Attorney John Pfister is board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We understand that every case is unique, and take the time to learn the details of your situation so that we can formulate a specific strategy to get the outcome you want. We offer experienced and successful trial counsel, or can help you to resolve your family law differences through alternative means, including negotiated settlements or mediation.
For an appointment with an experienced divorce lawyer, contact our office by e-mail or call us at (972) 370-5172.