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What Gets Decided When A Stepparent Adopts A Child?

What Gets Decided When a Stepparent Adopts a Child?

Family situations can sometimes change. After a divorce, a stepparent may want to adopt their spouse’s child. This is called stepparent adoption and sometimes second-parent adoption.

The process is often faster than adoption by a non-family member. While adoption is not necessary, there are some financial benefits. The stepparent is also recognized as a parent at doctor’s appointments and even when picking up the child from school.

Legal custody entitles the child to receive insurance benefits and directly inherit from the stepparent. There’s also an emotional factor since legalizing the adoption provides more stability for the entire family.

Termination of Parental Rights

Only two people can have legal custody of a child in Texas. This means that there must be an order terminating the parental rights of the parent that is not living with the child. The stepparent and the child’s other parent are the petitioners in the case of stepparent adoption.

In the case where one parent has died and the other has remarried, the stepparent adoption can obviously move forward without terminating parental rights. If termination is required before the child can be adopted, the court does allow for both processes to move forward at the same time and be heard in the same court.

When the court is considering termination of parental rights, they also look at whether the child has lived with the petitioner for at least six months. This is required before an adoption can be granted. Under some circumstances, the court will waive this requirement if requested by the petitioner, and it is not in the child’s best interest.

When Must the Child Consent to the Adoption?

Under Texas Family Code 162.010(c), a child 12 years and older must consent to the adoption in writing or give consent in court. However, under the law, the court can also waive this requirement if the judge believes that it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the stepparent.

The adoption process may include changing the child’s last name. If the child is ten years old or older, Texas Family Code 45.002(b) requires the child’s written consent to be attached to the adoption petition to allow their last name to be changed.

What Legally Changes After a Stepparent Adoption?

As happens in most adoptions, several legal changes occur regarding custody, parental rights, and name changes. In a stepparent adoption case in Texas, the court will terminate the parental rights between the child and the child’s other parent. At the same time, it also terminates any other court-ordered relationship of a conservator or guardian over the child.

The legal process entitles the child to the rights of a son or daughter of the stepparent. This means the child can receive insurance benefits, inheritance, or Social Security benefits when the parent reaches retirement. The adoption will end any financial support obligations from the terminated parent.

The stepparent and the other parent can also request to have the adopted child’s last name changed during the process. The parent can then apply to get a new birth certificate for the child, reflecting the name of the stepparent as the new parent.

Call Hargrave Law, PC for an Experienced Family Law Attorney’s Help

A stepparent adoption is an exciting time for a family. It is essential that paperwork is appropriately filed, and the parent and stepparent follow the requirements for adoption. There are several, and there may be unique requirements in your circumstances.

If you are considering a stepparent adoption, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced Texas family law attorney who can advise you on your rights and help guide you through the process. Call the skilled attorneys of Hargrave Law, PC today at 817-282-0679 for a confidential consultation and case evaluation.


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