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6 Tips fora Successful Adoption as a Stepparent

Adoption Application
Being a stepparent can come with a lot of ups and downs, but one of the biggest joys that can come with it is the big step of adopting a stepchild. This step not only formalizes and strengthens the family relationship but also secures you as a legal guardian and parent in the child's life and gives the child inheritance rights.

If you take this responsibility seriously and work with an adoption lawyer from a company like Joseph Walden Law, you can be sure to make the adoption a success and start enjoying the benefits of adoption as a family.

Know What to Expect

You likely haven't adopted a stepchild before, so naturally you may be curious about the process. First, you should understand that adoption is a serious legal process and involves detailed amounts of paperwork as well as background checks and other processes to make sure that you are a suitable legal parent. The process may be particularly complicated if you're dealing with a contested adoption case.

Regardless of your situation, working with your adoption lawyer will make things much easier. After all the formal steps are finished, you must attend a formal court hearing to finalize the adoption. Luckily, stepchild adoption is not nearly as expensive as regular adoption, and you likely won't need a home study, since the courts normally trust that the child's biological parent is responsible enough to help you care for the child's needs. However, you will have to pay some legal fees.

Understand What Adoption Entails

Adoption is a legally binding proceeding that will affect you and your child for the rest of your life. Even if you divorce or separate from the child's biological parent, you will still be his or her legal parent thereafter. You also will gain new responsibilities, such as the obligation to financially support the child. The child will even be issued an adoption certificate, which will have your name listed as a legal parent. 

Naturally, if you're intent on adopting the stepchild, you likely are aware of this permanency and are looking forward to it, but you should still make sure you take these ramifications seriously.

Know the Legal Requirements

In Alabama, you must be at least 19 years of age to adopt a child, and if you're married, the marriage must have had lasted at least a year. And it's not just you who has requirements to finalize the adoption - other parties may affect the outcome as well.

For example, if the child's biological parent does not consent to the adoption, their parental rights need to be involuntarily terminated, which could involve significant legal battles, not to mention some heartache on both sides of the case. Children 14 years or older must agree to being adopted as well.

Ask for Help

It will be a much easier process to finalize the adoption with the help of your spouse. Discuss the ramifications and long-term effects of adoption with him or her as well as whether you or the child will need counseling to deal with issues like grief as part of the process.

You should also enlist the help of an attorney who specializes in adoption and family law. He or she can help you understand state laws as well as any other complications that might come into play.

Be Confident
You wouldn't have come this far if you didn't love your stepchild dearly and want to become a bigger part of his or her life. As you ready yourself for the court hearing after the legal processes come to an end, prepare a statement to express your desire to become the child's legal parent. Follow these tips for success to move on your way to creating a new and lasting family unit with your child.

Disclaimer: No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.