Stepparent adoptions are commonly seen as a way of solidifying the relationship between a stepparent and stepchild. Before the adoption can proceed, the legal rights of the biological parent must be terminated first. Depending on the circumstances, this could prove difficult. If you are preparing to undergo the adoption process, here is what you need to know.
Is Voluntary Termination Possible?
If the biological parent is willing to give up his or her rights, there is no guarantee that the court will agree to it. The court looks at several factors in deciding whether or not agreeing to the termination is in the best interests of the child.
For instance, the court considers if the parent is being pressured to make the decision. Whether or not the parent is using drugs or alcohol also can play a role. The court could believe that the parent's decision-making abilities could be impacted by substance abuse.
Another factor is the reason the parent wants to terminate his or her rights.
It is the court's responsibility to weigh the reasoning for the termination. Parental rights are highly regarded in the court system and because of this, it is possible that the request could be turned down.
In the event that the court refuses the request, as the stepparent, you and the other biological parent need to make the case as to why termination is necessary.
What Are Acceptable Reasons for Terminating Rights?
If the biological parent is unwilling to have his or her rights terminated or the court rejected the reasoning for the termination, there are several acceptable reasons that could possibly lead to termination.
For instance, if the biological parent has provided no financial support for the child or has not seen the child in a long period of time, you could argue that his or her relationship is not in the best interests of the child.
Another reason the court might consider termination is child abuse. It is important to note that if you and the other parent are citing abuse as the reason, you have the burden of convincing the court. Depending on the age of your child, he or she might have to discuss the abuse with the judge or a court-appointed evaluator.
There are other scenarios in which the court would consider terminating a biological parent's rights. Consult with a family law attorney to find out which reasoning would work best in your situation and check out sites like http://www.paulmoorelaw.com.