How does stepparent adoption work in Pennsylvania?

When your child’s other parent does not share custody or parenting time and you have remarried, you and your new spouse may wish to pursue a stepparent adoption. With this arrangement, the noncustodial parent must agree to legally terminate his or her rights and your spouse would become your child’s legal parent.

Read on to learn more about the process of Pennsylvania stepparent adoption.

Seeking permission from the other parent

Often, the child’s other parent may be reticent to allow another person to adopt his or her child. However, Pennsylvania law allows for involuntary termination in these specific circumstances:

  • The person has not fulfilled his or her parental duties for at least six months, or at least four months if the child is a newborn.
  • The person has a history of neglecting or abusing his or her child.
  • The court cannot locate the other parent after a comprehensive search.
  • The court has convicted the other parent of aggravated assault or murder.

You must petition the court for involuntary termination, and the court will conduct a thorough investigation to make sure the request is appropriate and founded before proceeding.

Filing an adoption petition

If the court has terminated the other parent’s rights either voluntarily or involuntarily, or he or she has died, you can file a Pennsylvania stepparent adoption petition. The judge may schedule a hearing if he or she needs clarification or to get child consent for the adoption when the child is 12 or older.

Obtaining a new birth certificate

After this process, which takes about 60 to 90 days, you will receive a certificate of adoption. You can use this to request a new birth certificate for your child, which supersedes the original birth certificate.

If you have committed to raising your stepchildren, legal adoption cements the relationship when the other parent is absent from the child’s life. This often provides benefits such as legal rights, health care and inheritance.