The state recognizes six different types of adoption, and stepparent adoption in Georgia is one of the most common. When children become integrated into a blended family, stepparents become a fundamental factor in their lives. In many cases, the stepparent may wish to adopt his or her stepchild and make the relationship official and legal.
Stepparent adoption is a momentous and admirable undertaking, but one that can be complex and lengthy. There’s a specific process that Georgia requires for you to adopt your stepchild, and there is a set of requisites you’ll need to meet. Speak to a family law attorney David Ward in Gwinnett County for help navigating the adoption process and to explain exactly what your rights and responsibilities are.
Stepparent Adoption in Georgia: Requirements
The benefits that come with stepparent adoption are many. Formalizing your relationship will bring a sense of belonging for the child and serve as a beautiful public statement of love and unity for your family. An adoption also will afford you the right to make important decisions on behalf of your stepchild, such as those involving medical care, education, and religion.
Before filing the petition for adoption, you’ll need to ensure you meet the state’s requirements to adopt a child. The courts require that you meet the following basic conditions:
- You’ve been a Georgia resident for at least six months.
- You live with your spouse.
- You are at least 10 years older than your stepchild.
- You have the financial, mental and physical capability to take care of the child adequately.
Stepparent Adoption in Georgia: Important Considerations
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 and guardian. There will be definite legal ramifications. For example, should you and your spouse ever divorce, you will be subject to all of the legal obligations and benefits of a biological parent, including paying any child support. Both parents and stepparents who’ve adopted their stepchild may be granted various rights, including legal or physical custody, which may be sole or shared with the other parent.
One major caveat of stepparent adoption in Georgia is consent. For the courts to grant your petition, you’ll have to have the other parent’s consent—something that isn’t always an easy feat. Below are a few scenarios.
- Living parent. If that other parent is living, you’ll need to gain his or her written consent to adopt, and that parent must provide written release of his or her own parental rights. You also need written consent from your spouse, the child’s natural parent.
- Court-ordered termination of parental rights. If the other parent refuses to terminate his or her parental rights or if the parent absconds, you can try to get the courts to terminate that parent’s parental rights. To do this, you generally have to have a good amount of evidence that shows the parent abandoned the child.
- Deceased parent. If the other parent of the child you wish to adopt is deceased, you only need to obtain consent from your spouse to adopt his or her natural child.
- Child’s consent. If the child is age 14 or older, you must obtain his or her written consent to adopt.
REAL Case Analysis with Duluth Family Lawyer David J. Ward
A stepparent adoption can help solidify a family and make children feel more secure, particularly in cases in which they have an estranged or disengaged parent. If this is something your family is exploring, we encourage you to consult an experienced Duluth family lawyer like David J. Ward. Our legal team has helped numerous families with their stepparent adoptions, and we’d be happy to help you do the same. Call our office today at 770-383-1973 and schedule your REAL case analysis.