Stepparent Adoption in New York
When a couple marries and one of the spouses has a child from a previous relationship the stepparent sometimes seeks to adopt the stepchild. There are a number of emotional, practical and financial reasons for doing so. While stepparent adoption, also known as "relative adoption," is legally the same as other types of adoption, there are some differences because of the existing familial relationship. The biggest obstacle in the process is typically getting the birth parent to consent to the adoption. When a parent gives up parental rights so that a stepparent can adopt, the biological parent will no longer have full or partial custody and the biological parent will no longer be obligated to pay child support. With a few exceptions without the consent of the birth parent, it is not likely that the adoption will be permitted. If you are in need of a family lawyer because you would like to adopt your stepchild, it is important that you contact an experienced New York stepparent adoption lawyer who will explain to you the steps in the adoption process and help ensure the process is a smooth as possible.Why is stepparent adoption important?
One of the most common reasons for a stepparent to adopt a child is because of the emotional bond between the child and stepparent. The next natural step would be to make the already existing relationship a legal one. However, there are also financial and practical reasons. There is not legal difference between a biological child and an adopted child. Adopted children have all of the same legal rights as biological children and adoptive parents have the same legal rights as birth parents. Thus, in some cases a stepchild may not be entitled to certain employee health benefits while a biological child would be. Similarly, if anything happens to the other spouse, the stepparent will not be able to assert child custody without having to fight for it with the surviving biological parent or with the child’s other relatives. In other words a step parent does not automatically get custody of a stepchild should the spouse pass away.What if the birth parent refuses to give their consent?
Generally speaking if the other biological parent refuses to give consent, then the court will not permit the adoption of the child by the stepparent. However, there are certain instances where a child can be adopted despite the lack of consent by the other biological parent.
- The parent has failed to visit and communicate with the child for six months.
- The parent is mentally ill or mentally retarded and is unable to care for the child.
- The parent has abandoned the child.
- The child has had a guardian appointed under social services law.
- The parent has executed a legal document that is irrevocable, denying the paternity of the child.
If the child is over 14 years old, the court may require the child’s consent.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis& Associates
If you are seeking to obtain legal parental rights over your spouse’s child, then it is important to be represented by someone who has experience with stepparent adoptions. The first step in stepparent adoption is the getting the consent of the other parent or seeking to get the other parent’s parental rights terminated. This can be a complicated legal process. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis& Associates has years of experience successfully representing clients who are seeking to adopt children, who have custody issues, and who have other family law matters. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.