When should a stepparent consider adoption of a stepchild?

Pennsylvania stepparents sometimes may wonder whether or not they should adopt their stepchildren. There are several scenarios that might make this a good option.

When a child’s other biological parent dies, his or her stepparent might want to adopt the child so that the child can inherit and so that the stepparent may help with the child’s medical and educational needs. If the child’s biological parent to whom the stepparent is married dies, the stepparent will not have legal rights to the child if he or she has not adopted the child. The court would then be the child’s guardian and may send the child to live with the child’s biological relatives. The stepparent may not be granted visitation rights.

If the child’s other biological parent is alive but has abused or neglected the child, the stepparent may adopt the child and terminate the biological parent’s relationship. Adoption may also be a good idea when the stepparent and his or her partner share biological children in addition to the stepchild. This can help to make certain that all of the children will be treated equally and may help to reduce jealousy between the siblings.

Stepparents are not always allowed to adopt if the child’s other biological parent is living. In situations in which the other biological parent has abandoned the child or has a history of abuse or neglect, the court may allow the stepparent to adopt while terminating the biological parent’s rights. This may help to solidify the relationship between the stepparent and the child while also protecting the child from the toxic relationship he or she has with the other parent. People who are interested in adopting their stepchildren might want to consult with a family law attorney for advice about the process. As each situation is different, the foregoing should not be construed as legal advice.

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