Blended families are becoming more common in Missouri, and since 40% of people who divorce will remarry, step parent adoption is the most common form of adoption here. It is not uncommon for stepparent families to have the same relationships as biological families. Step-parenting can be really rewarding and that child may feel like they are your own. By giving adoptive parents step-parent rights, we can allow that adult and child to have the security of a permanent relationship. This article lays out what you need to know on how to adopt your stepchild in Missouri.
What is the Process for a Stepparent Adoption?
The following is needed for a stepparent adoption to proceed as governed by Missouri statue:
- A natural parent and their spouse, the stepparent, must petition for permission from the court.
- They will need to have consent of the other biological parent and the child if they are over 14 years old
- If the child is younger than 14, a guardian ad litem will be appointed to protect their rights
A guardian ad litem, typically a lawyer or social worker appointed by the court to represent and protect the best interests of any children involved in an adoption, can provide consent for a child because he/she has access to the child’s private desire about being adopted as well as an confidential information about their life history.
What if the Biological Parent Has Abandoned the Child?
If a child has not been abandoned by their biological parent, then the petitioning parents must secure written consent from that person. They will give up all rights to any future contact if they sign this document and agree with adoption proceedings. However, if the child has been abandoned by their biological parent for at least the last six months, the court can find that their consent to the adoption is unnecessary and grant the adoption against their wishes.
Is a Home Study Required for to Adopt a Stepchild?
A home study will usually be required. It is a thorough investigation to ensure that the adoptive parent will be a good fit with their new child. This includes looking at their income, home environment and their relationship to the child. If a Missouri court finds that the adoption is in the best interests of the child, they will grant the adoption and issue a decree.
How To Get Started
A stepparent adoption is often a smooth process with few hiccups, but if the biological parent has objections to the termination of their rights or if the new spouse has an unfavorable background that would make them unfit for parenting, it could become complicated.
Navigating through stepparent adoption procedures requires experience and it is too important to trust to an attorney with little experience in adoption. Heimer Law are experts on adoption and specialize their practice to adoption related matters. We have successfully completed hundreds of step parent adoptions. Call today at (417) 512-9867 for a free consultation and to learn the next steps you need to take to adopt your stepchild in Missouri or complete our Inquiry Form.