Fighting For The Adoption Rights Of Stepparents
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 attorneys about a stepparent 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. Oftentimes 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.
What Happens If 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 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 stepparent 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 stepparent adoption.
Stepparent Custody Rights
If you are a stepparent 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 in loco parentis, or in the role of 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 stepparent and biological parent have gone their separate ways.
Our Pittsburgh stepparent custody attorneys can assist with the filing of this type of complaint with the court. If the biological parent is deceased, the stepparent may be able to file a complaint for primary custody of the child with the court. If you have questions regarding stepparent rights, contact our Pittsburgh custody attorneys for a free consultation.
Stepparent Child Support Obligations
In cases where stepparents divorce from a child’s biological parent, Pennsylvania does not impose a child support obligation of a minor child on a stepparent except in rare circumstances. Child support is typically reserved for biological or adoptive parents in these situations.