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The Steps To Legally Adopt A Stepchild in Texas

 Posted on December 28, 2023 in Family Law

Tarrant County, TX stepchild adoption attorneyAdopting a stepchild is a major decision and a big step toward an incredibly rewarding future. Taking on a child who is not of your own blood is one of the most selfless things a person can do. You are proving your love for not only the biological parent, but of their child as well. The legal process for adoption is not as straightforward as you might hope, however. For what to expect on this journey, it would be wise to consult an attorney who has some experience in Texas adoption cases.

The Most Important Elements of Stepchild Adoption

There are many criteria for adopting a stepchild but the most important ones fall under marriage, residency, and consent. These criteria must be met to achieve your dream of stepchild adoption.

You must be married to the stepchild's legal parent. You must also reside with the child for at least six months before you can file for adoption. This is Texas law and doing so will show that you are capable of providing care and support for the child. It also serves to establish a bond between you and the child.

Both of the child’s parents must also consent to you becoming a legal parent of the child. Exceptions to this are if the other parent is deceased, has abandoned the child for an extended period of time, or has had their parental rights terminated. Texas requires that a child have no more than two legal parents at any given time so you must receive the required consent. A family law attorney can help you through the legal issues when a parent is unwilling to give up their parental rights to their child.

Finally, you will need the consent of the child. This step is only required if the child is aged 12 years or older. It is also possible that the court will find your adopting the child as being in the child’s best interest and waive this step altogether.

Processing The Legal Adoption

Once you understand and have fulfilled the other criteria, it will be time for you to file for adoption. You can head to the local family court to begin this step. There are two petitions to choose from when filing for a stepparent adoption:

  • Original Petition to Terminate Parent-Child Relationship and for Step Parent Adoption

  • Original Petition for Adoption

The former is required if the child already has two legal parents. The latter may be used when the child only has one legal parent.

Once filed, you can seek the consent of the other parent, if applicable. You can notify the other parent of your desire to adopt either in person or through certified mail. That parent will then be required to give their official consent for you to adopt their child, which must be in writing. Should the other parent refuse consent, you will need to seek to terminate the other parent’s parental rights via court order. Sadly, this could make the adoption process a lengthy one, dragging on for multiple court hearings before a resolution.

The court will set a hearing date once all paperwork has been filed. The judge will ask many questions about you, your relationship with the child, your relationship with the child’s biological parents, and your motivations for the adoption. If satisfied with your answers, and they believe that it is in the child’s best interest, the judge will sign an official adoption order making you the child’s legal parent.

Contact a Tarrant County, TX Family Law Attorney

Once you become an adoptive parent, you will share in all the rights, benefits, and responsibilities that a biological parent possesses. To ensure your adoption process goes smoothly, consult a Hurst, TX child adoption lawyer. Daniel R. Bacalis, P.C. can provide guidance and advice throughout the entire process. He can also help you with filing and ensuring all criteria are met. Contact the office at 817-498-4105 for a free consultation on how to get started.

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