03 Jan Can a Step-parent Adopt Their Child in Texas?
It is not uncommon for children to have step-parents. It is estimated that between 10 and 20% of U.S. children reside in stepfamilies and 13% of adults, 29-30 million, are stepparents. If you are a step-parent or you have married someone new and you have children, you might be wondering if step-parents can adopt their stepchildren in Texas.
When a marriage occurs where one spouse already has a child, parental rights are not automatically granted to the newlywed. This is the case whether the second parent is actively in the child’s life, M.I.A., or even deceased.
Step-parents do not have any legal rights to their stepchild, including making any decisions surrounding their lives. On a micro level, they can obtain rights to do things such as pick up from school or be an emergency contact, but they have zero privileges as a child’s guardian.
Step-parents can adopt their stepchildren in Texas. This can only happen if one of two scenarios exists: the other parent is deceased or their rights get terminated. While relatives can have given custody or visitation rights with a child, Texas courts do not recognize more than two parents.
In the unfortunate circumstance that the other parent is deceased, a step-parent can choose to fill that void through legal means. A deceased parent does not mean this occurs automatically; step-parents must still go through the proper channels.
If the other parent is absent, a step-parent may want to ensure that they are able to care for their stepchild. In this case, there needs to be a termination of parental rights for the other parent.
If the other parent is absent, you can try and work with them to relinquish their parental rights. If they don’t want to take this step, you will need to petition the court. Regardless of whether the other parent is deceased or you’re trying to obtain rights with the second parent living, you will need to file a Petition for Step-Parent Adoption.
As is the case with all family law involving children, the standard is in the best interests of the child. The court will send a social worker to complete a social study. The social study evaluates your living situation. Additionally, an interview occurs with the stepchild as well as the spouse. An important note to make here is that in order to adopt a stepchild, you must be married to the parent of the child.
After the social study, an amicus attorney gets appointed to make a recommendation to the judge on whether or not you should be allowed to adopt the stepchild. The attorney completes a similar study that the social worker did in order to make their recommendation.
Unlike family court, an attorney is not mandatory for any proceedings. Attorneys, however, can help make sure that all paperwork gets filed correctly and that your situation is highlighted in the best light. Navarrette Bowen P.C. has a team of experienced divorce and custody attorneys ready to help you navigate everything that comes with adopting a stepchild. Our office is in downtown Denton. A confidential consultation with us is free, and you can come into our office or schedule one online. Contact us today.