Remarrying and starting a new family is an exciting time in most people's lives. Stepparents can and often do take on an important and involved role in children's lives. Sometimes the stepparent is more involved and a better influence than one of the biological parents. In these situations, many parents become interested in the possibility and likelihood of the stepparent adopting the child.
Stepparent adoption is the most common type of adoption. In Alabama, a parent must be married to the stepparent for at least one year before the stepparent can petition the court for a stepparent adoption.
The process involves multiple steps which can be executed with relative ease depending on the willingness of the biological parent.
The first step in any stepparent adoption is to address the rights of the biological parent. If the parent has been absent from the child's life for an extended period of time, and then the parent may be willing to consent to the adoption. If that is the case then paperwork can be prepared in which the biological parent relinquishes his or her parental rights in agreement with the stepparent adoption. If the biological parent's whereabouts are unknown or the biological parent refuses to consent, then measures must be taken before the court can grant the adoption. If the biological parent's whereabouts are unknown, then notice of the adoption hearing must be specified through “publication” in a newspaper.
A biological parent does not have to consent to the adoption, and the objection of the biological parent does not necessarily mean that the adoption cannot be granted. A court can order the adoption without consent of the biological parent if the court finds that (1) the biological parent's consent is unavailable (because he or she did not appear) or (2) the biological parent is withholding consent against the best interests of the child and a continued relationship between the biological parent and child would be detrimental to the child.
An adoption trial can be legally complicated and emotionally draining. Having the assistance of an attorney who can review the circumstances of your case and inform you of what facts best highlight your case is of the utmost importance. If you have questions about any of the above, or you're looking to discuss your options, we would be happy to meet with you. Call our office today at (256) 519-9970 to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.