Olsinski Law Firm team

Step Parent Adoption

Dedicated Charlotte Family Law Attorneys Helping Families Become Stronger Through Adoption

As a step-parent, one of the most meaningful things you can do for a step-child is to legally adopt them. Unfortunately, many step-parents elect not to go through the adoption process due to the belief that pursuing a legal adoption is complex, expensive, and may open the door to other problems. However, that isn’t always the case. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, our knowledgeable Charlotte adoption lawyers have decades of experience helping parents unite their families through step-parent adoptions. We understand all the considerations, the potential complications, and what it takes to ensure a smooth process for all parties involved.

What Is a Step-Parent Adoption?

A step-parent adoption is the process by which a step-parent adopts a child who was born to their current spouse and a former partner. If a parent has a child from a previous relationship and then remarries, their new spouse is not legally considered a “parent” of the child unless they go through a step-parent adoption.

What Are the Requirements of a Step-Parent Adoption in North Carolina?

North Carolina’s adoption requirements can be burdensome. However, generally speaking, these requirements are relaxed for step-parent adoptions. That being said, you may still need to undergo a pre-placement assessment and must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have been married to the child’s parent for at least six months;
  • The child must have lived with you for the six months preceding the adoption;
  • You must obtain consent from both of the child’s biological parents;
  • You must undergo a background check; and
  • You must obtain the child’s consent if they are 12 or older.

It is important to note a step-child adoption will terminate the non-custodial parent’s parental rights. This not only means that there is no requirement they have a say in important decisions impacting the child’s life but also that they will not be required to continue paying child support.

Can You Pursue a Step-Parent Adoption if You Can’t Locate a Biological Parent?

Yes, it is possible to adopt a child even if you cannot locate the non-custodial parent, provided you know the parent’s name and date of birth. With this information, your adoption attorney will very likely be able to locate the missing parent.

What Happens if a Child’s Non-Custodial Parent Refuses to Provide Consent to Adopt?

As a general rule, you must obtain both biological parents consent before proceeding with a step child adoption. However, there are ways that an adoption can go through without the consent of the non-custodial parent. For example, it’s possible that a parent fails to respond to the petition, in which case the court may enter a decree of adoption. If the non-custodial parent responds, however, the adoption can only occur if the non-custodial parent’s parental rights are terminated. Typically, the assistance of a Charlotte step parent adoption attorney is necessary when a non-custodial parent lodges a formal objection.

Is a Home Study Necessary for All North Carolina Step-Parent Adoptions?

No, a home study, also referred to as a pre-placement assessment, is required for step-parent adoptions where the parent and step-parent have not been married for at least two years. Additionally, the clerk can request to waive the home-study requirement in any adoption proceeding at their discretion.

Are You Considering a Step-Parent Adoption?

If you are thinking about adopting one or more stepchildren, the experienced Charlotte adoption lawyers at the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, are here to help. We understand that the thought of going through the adoption process can be daunting, especially when the child’s other parent is not in the picture or against the adoption. However, we’ve created a streamlined process to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible and avoids any of the common adoption pitfalls. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Charlotte step parent adoption lawyer, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach one of our Concord family law attorneys at 704-918-4747. We represent clients in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Cabarrus, Iredell, Rowan, and Union Counties.

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