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3 considerations when adopting a stepchild after divorce

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2023 | Family Law |

A heartwarming adoption can mend the broken pieces of a heartbreaking divorce. Its healing quality often drives adoptive parents to pursue a formal connection with their stepchild.

Oklahoma celebrates such a rewarding experience that unifies families. However, interested parties must know that stepparent adoption tends to be intricate. Learning about specific considerations can help ensure a smooth process. 

Processing a stepparent adoption

A stepparent must be married to the child’s biological parent for at least a year. Despite their natural parental rights, the birth parent must be equally involved throughout the adoption process.

  • Petition: Filing a request to adopt in the stepparent’s or child’s county of residence entails submitting a legal document to the court, which will then schedule a hearing for presentation of supporting evidence and corresponding decision; preparing for a background check and required costs is also critical
  • Authorization: Seeking consent of the other biological parent, who may voluntarily relinquish their parental rights or involuntarily determined by the court to be in the child’s best interests due to severe issues, such as neglect, abuse or abandonment
  • Finalization: Certifying that the stepparent is now the child’s legal parent and can also request to change the child’s name in the approved adoption order

As the child’s new legal parent, the stepparent now shares the same rights and responsibilities as the child’s birth parent. They can make significant decisions for the child’s welfare and organize applicable financial arrangements.

Stepping up into a new parental role

Adjusting to a restructured family may take some time for all parties. After all, the child and stepparent only share a brief history. Thus, the stepparent must exert extra effort as they assume their new role. However, depending on the family’s situation, disputes may make it challenging to move forward. If the other biological parent continues to assert their rights, the stepparent must seek legal counsel to protect the family they are trying to build.