Murfreesboro Stepparent Adoption Attorneys
The makeup of families can be very diverse, and it’s not uncommon for a child to form a close bond with their stepparent that is as strong as their connection to their biological parent. However, stepparents do not have the same legal standing as biological parents. That is why many families pursue stepparent adoption to make their relationship with the child official and to grant the stepparent full legal standing.
Perhaps for these reasons, stepparent adoptions are a highly common type of adoption. If you’re considering adopting your stepchild, let the compassionate family law attorneys at Dotson and Taylor help you make that dream a reality.
What Does Tennessee Law Say About Stepparent Adoption?
Tennessee law requires the adoptive parent to be age 18 years or older, and they must be a Tennessee resident for six months or more when they petition to adopt. In many adoption cases, it is necessary for potential parents to participate in home study courses and complete other requirements set forth by the court or adoption agency. However, these requirements can be waived for stepparent adoption if they are married to the biological parent, who also lives in the home.
What Is the Process for Stepparent Adoption?
For the most part, the legal steps for stepparent adoption are the same as it is for a traditional adoption, with a few exceptions. The adoption still needs to go through the courts, but as mentioned, certain home study requirements can be waived. Unlike traditional adoptions, where adopting parents must go through a six-month waiting period before the adoption can be finalized, the waiting period for adopting stepparents is also waived.
The purpose of the waiting period is to make sure the home is appropriate for the child. The waiting period does not apply to stepparents because, like a relative adoption, the relationship between the child and the stepparent is already established.
When the adoption becomes final by the family court, the relationship between the stepparent and the child is a legal parental relationship. The stepparent is granted the legal rights and responsibilities of the child. Subsequently, the child’s birth certificate and last name can be legally changed.
What If the Biological Parent Doesn’t Consent to the Adoption?
Often, the biological parent outside the household may not agree to the termination of their parental rights. Under Tennessee law, grounds for termination must be proven to pursue the adoption without consent.
Here are just a few of the most common grounds for the termination of parental rights:
- Parental abandonment
- Parental abuse of the child or another child in the home
- Non-compliance with legal responsibilities in a permanency plan or plan of care
- The court has ordered the child to be removed from the home due to poor living conditions
- Behavior and actions against the child have led to a prison sentence of two or more years
Grounds must be proven for termination of the rights of a biological parent. It must also be proven that the termination is in the child’s best interest.
Get Help From a Murfreesboro Adoption Attorney
You likely have many questions about adopting your stepchild. The skilled Murfreesboro adoption attorneys at Dotson and Taylor are ready to help. We can help you through the process of stepparent adoption in accordance with Tennessee adoption laws.
Schedule a free initial consultation today by calling (615) 890-1982 or filling out our contact form now.