The Benefits Of Step-Parent Adoptions
While being a stepparent is not without challenges, many people successfully assume this role and end up forming close and loving bonds with the children involved. However, it is important to be aware that being married to their parent and playing a major role in the child’s life does not give them or you any legal rights. Stepparent adoption provides a solution to this problem. In addition to ensuring you are included in any child time-sharing arrangements should your marriage fail or something happens to your spouse, taking this step also provides protections and benefits to the children involved.
Benefits of Stepparent Adoption
Stepparents play an important role in many homes. According to the Stepparent Foundation, more than 50 percent of US children currently live with a stepparent. Some have played a part in raising the child from infancy while others have assumed a parenting role once the child hits school age or their teens. In either case, these are important relationships in both of the party’s lives and a stepparent adoption provides a way to ensure it is protected. Benefits include:
- The adopted stepchild has the same legal rights as any biological child in terms of inheriting from the stepparent’s estate;
- They are entitled to the same benefits as other daily members, such as those available through Social Security or the Veteran’s Administration;
- The stepparent has the right to make legal decisions on the child’s behalf, such as in regards to education and medical care;
- In the event of a divorce or the death of the partner, the stepparent has the same rights as a natural parent in terms of remaining in the child’s life.
The Process Of Adopting A Stepchild
While stepparent adoptions are still subject to the same rules as any other type of adoption under the Florida Statutes, in many ways the process is much easier. You have already established a home and a relationship with the child, which is half the battle. Depending on the child’s age, there may still have to be home visits and interviews with social workers to assess the situation. However, provided your spouse (the child’s parent) approves, the process can be completed in as little as six months, even less if the child is older.
The one problem that can arise in these cases is if the child’s other biological parent is in the picture. For a stepparent adoption to go through, they would have to surrender their parental rights. There are several situations in which this could occur:
- The other parent willingly surrenders their rights to the child;
- They abandoned the child years ago and have not contributed to their support;
- There is a history of abuse or neglect, warranting termination of parental rights.
Let Us Help You Today
Stepparent adoptions help to protect the relationship and rights of everyone involved. As an experienced Fort Lauderdale family law attorney, Vanessa L. Prieto is here to help guide you through the process. Call or contact our office online and request a consultation today.