South Carolina Stepparent Adoption
As a stepparent, you may feel a close bond with your stepchild, as though you were a biological parent. In these cases, you may want to consider the adoption of your stepchild, which would give them the legal rights they may not have as a stepchild.
But adoption can be difficult and confusing if you’re not prepared to take on the process. Because of this, you may need help from an experienced, local, family law attorney. Our team at Sarah Henry Law can guide you through the process to make it as simple as possible for your family.
What Is Stepparent Adoption?
Stepparent adoption is the adoption of a child by their biological parent’s spouse. Typically, the stepparent and child have already established a meaningful relationship, and the stepparent has already been taking care of the child for some time.
Adoption is the formalization and legal step required for the stepparent to enjoy full parental rights and responsibilities for their child.
Stepparent adoption protects the rights of both stepparent and child. These rights include the right to inheritance, the right to government benefits in the event of a stepparent’s death, the right to make financial and educational decisions for the child, the right to custody and visitation, and the right to child support.
Termination of a Natural Parent’s Rights
The first step is to terminate the natural parent’s rights to the child, whether by getting them to sign a consent form or having their rights terminated by the court. Some parents are more willing to relinquish their rights, seeing that it benefits the child and releases them from future obligations, while others are unwilling and make the process more difficult.
In such cases, based on the South Carolina Code of Laws, the rights of these parents can be terminated in family court. Some of the behaviors that can establish a basis for the termination of parental rights are the following:
- The parent has abandoned the child
- The parent has not kept in touch nor visited the child for at least six months and is not obstructed by a custodial parent or a court order in doing so
- The parent has not supported the child for at least six months
After terminating the natural parent’s rights, your lawyer can help you through the next steps of the adoption process.
Stepparent Adoption Process in South Carolina
The process of adopting your stepchild can be an exciting time, but it’s also important to take the right steps when adopting. If you intend to adopt your stepchild, you must understand the following parts of the process:
- Consent of Spouse and Child – The spouse of the stepparent has to give consent to the adoption. If the child is fourteen years or older, they must also consent to adoption, unless there are special circumstances. After securing this consent, you may file a petition in court to begin the adoption process.
- Guardian ad Litem – A guardian ad litem (GAL) is assigned to ensure that the adoption is in the child’s best interest. The GAL is responsible for investigating, gathering pertinent information, and reporting their observations and findings to the court.
- Court Hearing – There is usually a hearing in court between filing a petition and the finalization of the adoption. At this stage, your lawyer can represent you in the courtroom and ensure you’ve taken the right steps before your hearing. If you meet the requirements, the judge will sign the final adoption decree.
If you’re not sure you meet the right requirements to complete the adoption process, talk to your lawyer. We can help you determine whether you’ve taken the necessary steps.
Call a Stepparent Adoption Lawyer in South Carolina
Let our experienced family lawyer assist with your adoption case and ensure that your stepchild can be legally recognized. Contact us for your stepparent adoption queries, and Sarah Henry can help you take the next steps toward adoption.
The team at Sarah Henry Law would be happy to assist you and ensure that your adoption process goes smoothly. Call us at 864-478-8324 or fill out the following online contact form.