Step-Parent Rights

Pittsburgh Step-Parent Adoption

Our Pittsburgh family law firm understands the importance of making a family whole. If you are a parent whose spouse is not your child's biological parent, you may be interested in speaking to our Pittsburgh adoption attorney about a step-parent adoption. There are a variety of reasons why a parent would want to do this. For instance, the biological mother or father may be deceased, missing, unknown or just uninvolved, and you, as the custodial parent, feel it is in the child's best interest to have your spouse fill the position of the other parent and be known as such to the world.

Of course, as with anything, the Courts require you to go through the adoption process which usually involves at least two court hearings: first to terminate the rights of the other parent and then another to have the actual adoption hearing. Often times the most difficult part of the process is terminating the rights of the uninvolved or unknown parent, especially if they are contesting the termination or if you cannot locate him or her. However, there are many instances in which the other parent does not contest the termination of his or her parental rights and he or she consents through the court to the termination process.

Cases where there is an unknown biological parent

In cases where there is an unknown biological parent, you will have to make a diligent search to find him or her. If you are unsuccessful in your attempts to locate that parent, you will require special court permission to advertise a notice of the hearing in two local print publications to the unknown parent. It may sound a bit ridiculous advertising to an "unknown father or mother" but it is very important to show that he or she received adequate notice.

Any step-parent seeking to adopt should make sure that he or she obtains the requisite three (3) background checks or clearances: Pennsylvania Child Abuse, Pennsylvania State Police, and FBI. The forms may be found on the internet. If you already have them, they must have been obtained within one year of the filing. It is also a good idea to make sure they are updated if they are due to expire prior to the actual adoption hearing. Additionally, the court will oftentimes send one of their court investigators to your home to perform their own home study. This home study is not to be confused with a regular comprehensive home study that licensed adoption agencies conduct. However, in a step-parent adoption, a regular home study may not be required depending on what county you reside in.

Adoption is a wonderful process making families complete and providing a child with two loving parents. The adoption attorneys at McMorrow Law, LLC take pride in their work and are happy to assist you with your step-parent adoption.

Step-Parent Custody Rights

If you are a step-parent who is no longer residing with your spouse but had a significant or close relationship with your spouse's biological child, you may be able to file a complaint for partial custody or visitation of that child. As with any custody matter, the Court always considers what is in the child's best interests. If you have acted as a parent to the child, the Court may see that it is in the child's best interest to maintain the same bond even after the step-parent and biological parent have gone their separate ways. Our Pittsburgh step-parent custody attorneys can assist with the filing of this type of complaint with the Court. If the biological parent is deceased, the step-parent may be able to file a complaint for primary custody of the child with the Court. If you have questions regarding step-parent rights, contact our Pittsburgh custody attorneys for a free 30 minute consultation.

Step-Parent Child Support Obligations

Should you, as a step-parent, and a biological parent divorce, Pennsylvania does not impose a child support obligation of a minor child on a step-parent except in rare circumstances. Child support is typically reserved for biological or adoptive parents in these situations.

Contact an experienced child custody lawyer to day.

If you have any questions concerning your rights as a step-parent in Western Pennsylvania, please contact McMorrow Law today at 412-407-2816 or 724-940-0100.  You may also contact us via email.