Blended families are increasingly common. People who didn’t marry the parents of their children or who divorced before remarrying will find themselves in a family scenario where not everyone has the same rights.
A stepparent will live with, take care of and provide for the children of their spouse, but they don’t necessarily have any parental rights. If their spouse dies, they could lose contact with the children when they go to live with their other parent. If the two divorce, the stepparent might not be able to maintain their relationship with the children without the cooperation of their ex.
A stepparent adoption is a perfect solution to these problems. It allows a stepparent to become a fully-recognized legal parent to the children in the family. However, Texas does not allow for three parents on a child’s birth certificate, so the other biological parent will need to give up or voluntarily terminate their parental rights. Could their refusal prevent the adoption?
You typically need the other parent to cooperate for an adoption
The law protects the rights of parents, at least up until they agree they are not capable of filling those obligations or the state intervenes to terminate their rights. Approaching the other parents of a child because your spouse wants to pursue a stepparent adoption can be a stressful process.
However, especially if they have struggled financially due to child support obligations or they don’t make use of their parenting time rights, they may agree to voluntarily rescind their legal role as a parent to allow a stepparent to assume that position.
What if they do not cooperate?
Some families hoping to complete a stepparent adoption must adjust their plans when a non-custodial parent refuses to cooperate. In scenarios where one parent has shown that they are unfit, possibly through mistreatment or neglect, you may be able to go through the legal process of involuntarily terminating their parental rights.
They will have the option of responding and defending their parental role in family court if you seek to terminate their rights without their consent. Provided that you have a reasonable basis for doing so and evidence to support your claims, a judge may agree that terminating their parental rights to allow for a stepparent adoption would be in the best interest of the children.
Identifying and planning for the hurdles between you and a stepparent adoption can help your blended family better protect every member.