Blended families are common in today's world. When a parent remarries, and the other parent has either died or plays a minor role in the child's life, the new couple may seek stepparent adoption. This has the legal effect of classifying the adopted child the same as if they were the biological child of the adoptive parent.
As experienced family law attorneys in St. Charles, MO, the Lecour Family Law is dedicated to bringing families together and keeping the peace among everyone involved. If you are currently a stepmother or stepfather who would like to become the legal parent of a child you already care for, you can count on our services to help.
Stepparent Adoption in Missouri
When the parent of a child no longer takes parental responsibility, the stepparents often take on the role without having the legal title of "parent." If you have been responsible for the care of your stepchild and the birth parent is no longer involved in the child's life, you may be interested in pursuing a legal adoption.
Missouri has specific requirements you must meet to adopt a stepchild. They include the following:
Acquire the Consent of Your Stepchildren and Their Biological Parents. The law requires you to obtain permission from your stepchild and the parent you are supplanting. Children 14 or older may sign a consent form to signal their agreement. If they are younger, the court establishes a guardian for the child. This Guardian ad Litem is a court-appointed attorney who protects the child's best interests. The Guardian ad Litem will likely meet with the stepparent and child at least once before the adoption hearing date and will provide their recommendations to the court. If the biological parent no longer has parental rights, fails to respond to queries, is unidentifiable, is mentally incompetent, or has abandoned the child at least six months prior, consent is not required.
Pass a Home Study and Background Check. Once consent paperwork has been completed and submitted, a home study is next. A social worker must investigate your home and deem it appropriate. The court can waive this part of the process if it chooses to. In addition, the court will require the stepparent to undergo a background check to review criminal history and any reports or history of child abuse or neglect. The court will require further explanation if the background check reveals any issues.
Attend a Court Hearing. The court will determine whether or not you have followed the proper procedures and if the adoption is in the child's best interests. After reviewing the information presented, the judge will decide whether the adoption proceedings can continue. Your case will be scheduled for a finalization hearing on a specific date and time. Once the adoption is finalized, the child will receive a new birth certificate from the state acknowledging the stepparent as a parent.
Stepparent adoptions usually proceed without incident unless the biological parent seeks to challenge any termination of parental rights or the stepparent seeking to adopt has a problematic background that might render them unfit to parent. An experienced adoption attorney can review your situation and provide valuable advice on how to proceed with the stepparent adoption process.
Contact Lecour Family Law Today
Lecour Family Law understands the importance of formalizing your relationship with your stepchildren. Adoption brings families together and provides children with a healthy and stable home environment. We enjoy helping stepparents adopt the children they already think of and treat as their own. We are committed to ensuring that stepparents are granted the legal rights they deserve. In addition to stepparent adoptions, we handle family, grandparent, and agency adoptions. Call us at 636-685-0440 to discuss your options.