In Arkansas & Missouri, a stepmother or stepfather can adopt a stepchild. The step parent must be legally married to the birth parent in the state where the child resides, though this may not be a requirement in all states. Adopting step children can be a relatively simple process, but you will need legal support.
How does adoption change your relationship with your stepchildren?
Adopting your stepchildren gives you the same legal relationship to the children that your spouse has. You are legally responsible for the children just as you would be if they were your biological children, and you have the same legal rights.
Your adopted stepchildren will inherit from you just as biological children would, and the legal connection is permanent. Your adopted child will be issued a new birth certificate and may take your last name.
If your stepchild is 12 years old in Arkansas or 14 years old in Missouri, he or she must consent to the adoption. This is true in all Arkansas and Missouri adoptions unless disability prevents the child from consenting. The other birth parent — for example, the birth father if you are married to the birth mother — will not be able to continue in a legal parental relationship with the children. He may consent to the adoption and the termination of his rights as a father. He might not have to consent, if he has abandoned the children or failed to provide financial support. Either way, you will be the legal father and the birth father will no longer have any legal rights to the children once you have adopted them.
Step parents in either state may not have to go through the home visit process as an unrelated adoptive parent would, so the process can be simpler and less expensive than other types of adoptions.
Heimer Law can help you sort these matters out and has the resources to help you navigate completed adoptions. Justin Heimer has training as a family counselor and is a licensed AAAA Adoption Attorney in both Arkansas and Missouri.
Contact us today to discuss your options for adopting your step children. If you are ready to take action, fill out the intake form and we will contact you to schedule a call.