Adoption cases can often be extremely stressful to any potential parent seeking to adopt a child. Like all adoption cases, Step Parent Adoption cases can be some of the most complex custody cases that come before a court. When a Step Parent chooses to adopt a child, the parental rights of the parent who is not the Adopter’s spouse must be terminated. This can happen one of two ways: the first can be through consent from the person whose parental rights will be terminated. The second option is a court’s decision to involuntarily terminate a person’s parental rights.
A parent can voluntarily terminate his or her rights with respect to a child. Many voluntary terminations occur when there is a parent who is not involved in the child’s life. A voluntary termination of parental rights also effectively terminates any support obligation that the terminating parent may face.
An involuntary termination of parental rights will only occur after a petition to the court requests such relief. This petition can be brought by the county when a child has been adjudicated dependent and the county no longer believes reunification is possible. Alternatively, a petition for involuntary termination of parental rights may be presented by a parent due to the other parent’s lack of involvement or abuse. There is a long list of factors the court must consider before involuntary termination can take place. The court must carefully consider each factor and weigh how the termination will affect the child before any decision is made.
After a parent’s parental rights have been terminated, the court will proceed with the adoption process. A step parent can adopt the child with consent of their spouse and consent of the child (if the child is over the age of 12). An adopting step parent will be required to submit their criminal history if they have one and may potentially receive a home-visit from the county prior to the court’s approval of an adoption.
If you are a step parent in Pennsylvania who wishes to adopt your step child, please contact one of our experienced Adoption Attorneys today. Our team of Western Pennsylvania adoption lawyers will work with you to provide you with the legal guidance you need and work to ensure that the adoption process is as easy and stress free as possible. For more information, contact us today!