Being a parent is a difficult job, but parents provide much needed stability and security to their children. Children need this permanence even more as their parents go through a divorce and in the years after it, as they watch their parents move on from one another and engage in new romantic relationships. One way stepparents can help ease the transition for their significant other’s previous children is by adopting them.
Stepparent adoption in North Dakota is similar to other forms of adoption, except that it can be quicker because the parties are related to one another. Where other forms of adoption face hurdles in the form of home visits and waiting periods, courts often waive these in stepparent adoptions. The true issue often arises in gaining parental consent from the other birth parent.
In all stepparent adoptions, consent is required from both birth parents. The only instances in which consent is not required are when the rights have been terminated due to abandonment, neglect, unfitness or failure to pay child support. In some instances, getting consent to terminate parental rights might be easy, as the birth parent may not have a relationship with the child anyway and would appreciate not having to make child support payments. However, in some cases the birth parent may not want to give up his or her rights but it might be possible to continue by terminating them legally, such as by proving that the parent is unfit or has abandoned the child.
Adopting a stepchild is a great way to make a child feel part of the family and to legalize a relationship that most likely already exists. It is important to make sure all the legalities have been complied with to ensure that there are no problems at a future date and it might be helpful to consult an experienced attorney about how to proceed.