What you need to know about stepparent adoption

Stepparent adoption occurs when a parent marries a new spouse and that spouse becomes the legal guardian to their stepchild. This form of adoption is common in the U.S., but the procedures can vary according to the state you live in. Here are the basics of stepparent adoption in Pennsylvania.

What is stepparent adoption?

Stepparent adoption involves one biological parent and one stepparent. The child’s noncustodial parent will lose their parental rights once the stepparent adopts the child. This means the child’s other biological parent will no longer be responsible for caring for the child financially or otherwise.

Requirements for stepparent adoption

In order for a stepparent to adopt a child, the noncustodial parent must consent to the adoption process. This adoption option is often ideal if the noncustodial parent is not actively involved in the child’s life. The noncustodial parent must sign documents indicating that they are giving up their parental rights and obligations. In some cases, permission from the noncustodial parent is not required.

Some states will allow the stepparent to adopt the child even if the noncustodial parent does not consent. While this is rare, the judge may make this ruling if the noncustodial parent has not had any contact with their child for a significant period of time.

Most states require that the noncustodial parent’s consent must be submitted to the judge in a written statement. The noncustodial parent may also need a court representative or require counseling to understand the rules of stepparent adoption fully.

Adopting a stepchild is often the ideal choice for many families. Understanding the legal process of adoption can prepare you and your loved ones for this meaningful transition.