3 things to know about stepparent adoption in Pennsylvania

Stepparent adoption is a relatively common family law matter. People who combine their families may develop close bonds with the children of their spouses. They may eventually want to become the lawful adoptive parent of the child instead of continuing to only be a stepparent.

Many people considering a stepparent adoption don’t know what to expect. They may have unrealistic expectations for the process. Reviewing the three facts about stepparent adoption detailed below can help people determine whether a stepparent adoption is the right choice for their family circumstances.

Stepparent adoptions enhance parental rights

The main reason that people consider a stepparent adoption is often to protect the relationship they have with a stepchild. If spouses divorce, a stepparent may have a very difficult time seeking shared custody rights. If anything were to happen to the parent of the stepchild, the stepparent might have to give up their relationship if the child goes to live with their other parent. A stepparent adoption effectively helps enshrine the rights of a stepparent to maintain a relationship with their stepchild.

Stepparent adoptions require parental permission

Often, stepparents decide to adopt in part because a stepchild lacks a strong relationship with their other parent. However, provided that the parent is still alive, they generally need to approve of the adoption. Someone pursuing a stepparent adoption must have permission from both living parents and approval from the courts to move forward with the process.

Second-parent adoptions have become more complex

Same-sex couples have long relied on adoption as a way of growing their families. However, not all same-sex couples in committed relationships legally marry. These couples may rely on second-parent adoptions. Such adoptions are possible when an unmarried partner fills a parental role. Sadly, second-parent adoptions have become slightly more complicated after a recent court ruling in Pennsylvania. The same-sex partner of the parent now has to establish a reasonable explanation for why they cannot marry and meet the standard required for the typical stepparent adoption.

Stepparent adoption can potentially be beneficial for everyone in a family, but not all households are necessarily eligible for such adoptions. Talking about family circumstances at length with a skilled legal team can help parents better evaluate if a stepparent adoption is right for their family.