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Stepparent Adoptions

Posted on in Child Custody

Texas complex custody attorney, Texas family law statutesStepparent adoptions can be the perfect way to complete a family and demonstrate dedication to a stepchild. However, the adoption process can be quite complex, so if you were recently remarried and are interested in adopting a stepchild, it is critical to contact an experienced complex child custody attorney who can explain your legal obligations.

Filing a Petition

In Texas, a person can petition the court to adopt a child if:

  • The child lives in the state;
  • One of the biological parent’s rights to the child have been relinquished; and
  • The parent whose parental rights have not been terminated is married to the petitioner and the proceeding is for a stepparent adoption.

Terminating Parental Rights

In order for a stepparent adoption to take place, the parent of the child who is not married to the petitioner must give up his or her parental rights. Although the adoption may be in the child’s best interests, it can often be difficult to obtain consent. However, courts can take the matter into their own hands and order termination of the parent-child relationship if there is clear and convincing evidence that the parent:

  • Voluntarily abandoned the child and expressed the intent not to return or left the child without providing for support and remained away for at least three months;
  • Knowingly allowed the child to remain in dangerous conditions;
  • Engaged in conduct or placed the child with someone who engaged in conduct that endangered the child;
  • Failed to pay child support for a year;
  • Abandoned the child’s mother during the pregnancy and remained apart from the child since the birth;
  • Was the major cause of the child’s failure to enroll in school;
  • Has been convicted of causing injury to a child;
  • Has had his or her parent-child relationship with another child terminated;
  • Used a controlled substance in a manner that endangered the safety of the child and failed to complete a substance abuse treatment program or continued to use the substance;
  • Was convicted of an offense and has been imprisoned for at least two years from the date that the petition was filed; and
  • Was the cause of the child being born addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance.

Termination must also be in the best interest of the child. Generally, courts will conduct a fitness hearing to determine whether a person is fit to be a parent. If it determines that a biological parent is unfit or if the parent voluntarily relinquishes parental responsibility, the petitioner can move onto the next step in the adoption process.

Family Evaluations

At this point, the court will arrange for a social study of the family, which includes:

  • Visiting the home;
  • Evaluating the parent’s employment and financial records; and
  • Observing the parents and children.

After the home visit, an amicus attorney will be appointed to complete additional evaluations by interviewing and observing the child and the adoptive parent. This person’s opinion is then presented to the court with his or her recommendation of whether the adoption should be permitted. The court will then make a final determination based on this evidence.

Contact an Experienced Complex Child Custody Attorney Today

If you want to adopt your stepchild, please contact Powers and Kerr, PLLC to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. Our aggressive Georgetown complex child custody attorneys are eager to assist you today.

Sources:

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/FA/htm/FA.162.htm

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/FA/htm/FA.161.htm

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