Whats involved with a step parent adoption in Texas?
What Is Step-parent Adoption?
The spouse of the parent petitions the court to obtain legal parental rights and responsibilities to the children through the adoption process. Most attorneys who handle these types of cases agree that its similar to a traditional adoption, with a few exceptions, namely that step parent adoptions are only permissible under certain circumstances.
Step parent adoptions, must meet one of the following criteria- absent parent, deceased parent, unknown parent, or indifferent parent not involved in the child’s life. The child must be in the custody of the parent to whom the petitioning stepparent is now married. If these conditions are applicable, it is possible to petition for a stepparent adoption.
Stepchild Adoption Process in Texas
Petition Filing – As with any adoption process, stepparent adoption begins with filing a petition to adopt with the local family court. This is generally done through the guidance of capable adoption attorneys who can assist the parties through the entire process.
Termination of Parental Rights – Once an adoption request has been filed, the adoption attorney can move on to the next step that involves obtaining a termination of parental rights from the absent parent, if one is known and alive. It is a formal request asking that other parent to sign an agreement to terminate their parental rights so the stepparent adoption can be done. If the absent parent refuses, the case moves to the court. There a judge will determine if it is in the best interest of the children involved for the parental rights of the other parent to be terminated.
Social Study – If the above action is determined to be in the best interest of the children, the petition can progress to the next step. It involves a social study of the prospective family that includes: visiting the home; evaluation of employment and financial records; observations, and and an initial screening with the parents and children. All of this is used to help judge the situation and determine the fitness of a stepparent to adopt stepchildren.
Amicus Attorney – After the social study, an Amicus Attorney is appointed. The role of the Amicus Attorney is to serve as a non-biased lawyer appointed by the court who will repeat some of the previous evaluations, especially interviews and observations, to determine if the specific situation is best for the individual child or children and the family. Their opinion, along with the results of the social study, is then presented to the court with a recommendation of whether or not to allow the adoption to be finalized.