Hi, I'm Dave Ward from The Ward Law Firm. Georgia recognizes six different types of adoption and stepparent adoptions are one of them. When children becomes an integral part of a blended family, stepparents frequently become fundamental factors in their lives. In many cases, the stepparent may wish to adopt his or her stepchild and make that relationship more official and legal.
Stepparent adoption is a [monumentous] and admirable undertaking, but one that can be complex and lengthy. There is a specific process in Georgia that you're required to follow any time you enter into a stepparent adoption.
The benefits that come with a stepparent adoption are many. Formalizing a relationship will bring a sense of belonging for the child and serve as a beautiful public statement of your love and affection for the child. An adoption also will afford you the right to make important decisions on their behalf in the event an emergency was to arise.
Before filing a petition for a stepparent adoption, you'll need to ensure that you meet the state's requirements in order to adopt a child. The court requires that you meet at least the following basic conditions. First, that you've been in Georgia as a resident for at least six months, that you are at least 25 years of age, that you are at least 10 years older than the stepchild, and that you have the physical, financial, and mental capabilities to take care of the child adequately.
When a stepparent seeks adoption in Georgia, there are a few additional factors to consider. First, it's important to grasp that if you are able to finalize the adoption, you will become the child's legal parent or guardian. There will be definite legal ramifications. For example, should you and your spouse ever divorce, you will be subject to all the legal obligations and benefits of a biological parent, including paying child support. Both parents and stepparents who have adopted their stepchildren may be granted various rights, including legal and physical custody, which may be sole or shared with the other parent.
One major caveat of a stepparent adoption in Georgia is consent. Most of the time, you're going to have to get consent of the biologic parent, and that's not always something that's easy to do. However, there are some circumstances where that may not be the case. For example, obviously if you have a living parent, then they would need to sign a release approving of the adoption. However, in some cases, a court may terminate the parental rights of the biological parent. If that happens, then that will serve as in the place of consent in order to allow the stepparent adoption to go forward. Also, and finally, you may have a deceased parent. If that's the case, the other parent of the child that you wish to adopt obviously can't consent either way. However, what can happen is it may affect how certain rights are affected after the adoption.
A stepparent adoption can help solidify a family and make children feel more secure, particularly in cases where they have an estranged or disengaged parent. If this is something you and your family is exploring, I would encourage you to give me a call today. We have lots of experience helping folks navigate the issue of stepparenthood adoptions and we'd be happy to speak with you and about your case and what you need to consider in moving forward. Give me a call today. I'm Dave Ward from The Ward Law Firm and we protect business owners facing divorce.