Indianapolis Stepparent Adoption Attorney
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a marriage rate of 6.9 and a divorce rate of 3.2 per 1,000 population in the U.S. Blended families are becoming more prevalent, as are stepparents and stepchildren. Stepparent adoptions are becoming more common for several important reasons.
Our experienced Indianapolis family law attorneys at Trapp Law, LLC have significant experience handling stepparent adoption cases. We offer a free and confidential initial consultation and strive to deliver high-quality, affordable legal services. Our Indianapolis stepparent adoption lawyers understand that no two cases are the same and develop creative, custom solutions for each person we represent.
Why Do Stepparents Adopt?
In blended families, a stepparent may have a more significant familial role in the child’s life than the other biological parent. Stepparents may decide to adopt their stepchildren for any of several reasons:
- The other biological parent has not supported or visited the child for a significant period of time.
- The child has grown attached to the stepparent and identifies with him or her as a parent.
- Adopting a stepchild can help establish a stronger family unit.
What Is the Procedure for Adopting a Stepchild in Indiana?
To adopt a stepchild in Indianapolis, IN, the stepparent seeking to adopt must file a petition with the court in the county of residence. The petition must be accompanied by the spouse’s written consent to the adoption.
In most cases, the petitioner is required to give notice of the proposed adoption to the birth parent. If the whereabouts of the birth parent is unknown, the notice requirement may be satisfied by publishing in a newspaper. If the birth parent can be located and consents to the adoption, written consent must be filed with the court.
Do I Need Consent From The Non-Custodial Parent To Adopt My Stepchild?
In all adoptions, especially when adopting the child of a partner, consent from the non-custodial parent is required. In the case that their birth rights have been terminated, then that birth parents consent is not needed.
If the birth parent does not have a relationship with the child or have custody, it may be easier for the stepparent in the adoption process.
What Happens If the Birth Parent Does Not Consent to Stepparent Adoption?
If the birth parent does not consent to the stepparent adopting the child, the court holds a hearing to determine whether:
- Consent of the birth parent is necessary
- Adoption is in the best interests of the child
In certain cases, consent of the birth parent may not be required for the adoption to proceed. This determination may be made by the court if:
- The birth parent has abandoned the child for a period of at least six months.
- The birth parent has failed to communicate significantly with the child for one year or more, without justifiable cause.
- The birth parent is legally required to support the child has failed to do so.
- Clear and convincing evidence shows that the birth parent is unfit.
In the contested hearing, the petitioner must present evidence of reasons why the court should not require the consent of the birth parent to grant an adoption. If the petitioner can show that the birth parent has made no effort or only token efforts to communicate with or support the child, the court may declare the child abandoned, in which case consent to adoption is not required.
I’m Part of a Same-Sex Couple. Can I Adopt His/Her Child?
After the ban of same-sex marriages ended in 2015, in most cases same-sex partners can adopt using the same stepparent adoption process.
Speak to an Experienced Indianapolis Stepparent Adoption Attorney
To issue an adoption decree, the court must find that:
- Proper notice was given.
- Necessary consent was provided, or consent was not necessary.
- Adoption is in the child’s best interest.
- Petitioner has the ability to raise the child and provide support and education.
- The petitioner is not prohibited from adopting by a criminal history.
Our experienced family law attorneys at Trapp Law, LLC in Indianapolis, IN know what is at stake in family law cases. We will take every possible measure to secure a successful outcome in your case. Contact us to schedule a consultation regarding stepparent adoption.