When a stepparent is married to a birth parent who has custody and control of a minor child, that stepparent may choose to adopt the minor child through what is known as a Stepparent Adoption. The stepparent must be at least ten years older than the child, but there is no official requirement for how long a stepparent must be married to the birth parent. However, a year is recommended to ensure that the marriage is stable. Additionally, if the child is fourteen years of age or older, their written consent is required.

The stepparent must file the adoption request and the birth parent must join in this request. If the absent parent is not deceased and does not give his or her consent, both the stepparent and birth parent must either seek to terminate the absent parent’s parental rights or ask the court to allow the adoption process to continue.

Following this request, the court will hold an evidentiary hearing in order to determine whether the rights of the absent parent should be terminated. Failure to appear at this hearing may also result in the termination of the absent parent’s parental rights. Additional grounds for termination of a birth parent’s parental rights include abandonment, unfitness, or failure to support the child. The issue of consent in adoptions can be a difficult choice since, once consent to adopt is given, that birth parent loses all parental rights, including the right to visit the child. Ultimately, any decisions made should be done so with the child’s best interests in mind.

The St. Louis County custody attorneys at Coulter Lambson are dedicated to protecting the rights of children and their families. We advocate for custody plans that protect the best interests of children as well as their parents, backed by years of experience in various family law courts.

We offer confidential and complimentary consultations. Call us today at (314) 309-2377.