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How can I tell if my spouse’s child is eligible for me to adopt them?

Adoption is a legal process where someone may be recognized as the adoptive parent of a child. This allows parents to make bigger decisions regarding the care of their adopted child, such as signing for medical decisions or readying their adopted child for school. People often consider adopting from a local agency or foster care, an international agency, or a relative or sibling.

While it may be conceivable that, when people marry and there’s a child involved, the stepparent is immediately legally bound as a guardian to their stepchild, however, that may not always be the case. Stepparents may need to consider filing a case to adopt their stepchild. But, knowing when to do this can be difficult.

Here’s what you should know:

How do you file a stepparent adoption case?

Texas laws (Texas Family Code 162.001(b)(2)) state that a child’s parent must be present with the filing stepparent during an adoption case.

It should be stated that, if the child’s other parent is alive, which is not the stepparent’s spouse, they may need to terminate their parental rights. Any other court-ordered parental rights may also need to be considered for termination. As stated above, this only matters if the child’s other parent is still alive, otherwise a petition for adoption may not need to terminate their parental rights.

The stepparent’s spouse will keep their parental rights during the process, however.

Do you need the child’s consent to the adoption?

Adoption is a big change in a child’s life and parents and stepparents may need their child’s permission if they are 12 years of age or older. In other words, a child younger than 12 years of age doesn’t have to grant permission for adoption. But, a child 10 years of age or older may have to grant permission if the adoption also plans to legally change the child’s name.

A stepparent adoption process can grant both the parent and child many benefits. The stepparent may be given the obligation to care for their adopted stepchild, making decisions for their health and education. The child, likewise, may be properly cared for and given inheritance rights over their stepparent.

The adoption process can be tricky. You may need to reach out for legal help to know your options.

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