Adopting Your Spouse’s Child in Edwardsville Illinois
When you get married to someone who already has a child or children from a previous relationship, you may wish to adopt those children at some point to solidify your family unit. Here in Edwardsville, Illinois, the process is much simpler than for standard adoptions. You typically won’t need to go through the background checks and home visits that are common for other adoptions. However, there are still certain criteria you must meet to proceed with the adoption.
Valid Stepparent Relationship
First of all, you must legally be the child’s stepparent, meaning that you and the parent must be officially married. You cannot adopt the child if you are simply living together as if you were married. Your spouse must be the child’s custodial parent as well. If the child splits time between both parents, you typically will not be able to complete the adoption and will have to settle for a relationship without legal guardianship rights.
Termination of Parental Rights
The child’s other parent (not your spouse) must give up their parental rights to the child. This means that they will no longer have any parental claim over the child and will not have to pay child support. The other parent can choose to terminate their relationship voluntarily, or the court may revoke their rights. This can occur in cases of abandonment, neglect, child abuse and other scenarios in which the other parent does not maintain a relationship with the child. Unfortunately, if the other parent does not consent to give up their parental rights, you will not be able to adopt their child unless the court intervenes.
Adopting Older Children
If your spouse’s child is 14 years of age or older, you must also get the child’s consent to complete the adoption. At this age, the court determines that children are mature enough to make their own decisions about their parents, so you’ll need their approval to adopt them. There is no such requirement for younger children, as they have not yet reached maturity.
Proceeding with the Adoption
If you have satisfied all of the above criteria, you are ready to take the next steps towards adoption and legal guardianship. The family law attorneys here at Levo-Donohoo will be happy to guide you throughout the process to ensure everything goes forward smoothly. We’ll work with the courts on your behalf to get your adoption finalized so that you can officially become a stepparent.