Jeff Marshall is a board certified specialist in Family Law
Business North Carolina's Legal Elite. North Carolina Super Lawyers.
Board Certified Specialist in Family law.
Contact Us Today

Raleigh Stepchild Adoption Lawyers

Stepchild adoptions are becoming more common nowadays given the changes in family dynamics. Parents often remarry after a divorce, and the new stepparent is able to develop a strong bond with a stepchild. However, under the law, the stepparent typically does not have any actual parental rights over the stepchild. This can create frustration and a sense of helplessness for the stepparent, especially in critical situations where important choice need to be made for the child.

If you are interested in adopting your stepchild, the Raleigh stepchild adoption lawyers at Marshall & Taylor PLLC are ready to guide you through the process. As an adoptive parent, you will have the same rights as a biological parent. This includes making decisions about the child’s health, school, and smaller everyday items, like signing school forms for field trips. The child will also become eligible for insurance benefits and entitled to your inheritance. Adopting a child is a serious decision that comes with long-term responsibilities. It is also important to remember that if you and the biological parent were to divorce, you would still be responsible for child support.

If you are ready to take the next step with your family and adopt your stepchild(ren), let the experienced legal team at Marshall & Taylor PLLC help you through this complicated process. Our attorneys understand the challenges stepparents may face and have the necessary experience to get you the results you want. Contact us today at (919) 833-1040 so that we can start you along this wonderful path.

Stepchild Adoption in North Carolina

In North Carolina, a stepparent can adopt a child after being married to the biological parent for six months or more. During this time, the child must have lived primarily with the stepparent and the biological parent in North Carolina. This does not include any time you lived together before being married.

The other biological parent must consent to terminate his or her parental rights in order for the adoption to be finalized. The stepchild adoption process will often move along quickly if the other biological parent is willing to terminate his or her rights. But, in instances where the other biological parent does not want to terminate, other alternatives will need to be explored to convince the court to terminate the parent’s right. If this is the case, you will need to file additional forms with the court and will need to demonstrate why the adoption is in the best interest of the child.

Some ways to prove that the other biological parent’s rights should be terminated are a failure to pay child support for an extended amount of time, a failure to maintain visitation visits, and/or abandonment. The process is similar to when the other biological parent cannot be located.

The first step of the stepchild adoption is to file a petition with the court. Once the petition is filed, if the other biological parent has not consented, you will need to serve the parent with a copy of the petition. If the other parent has given consent to terminate his or her rights, you are not required to serve the other parent. After serving the other biological parent, a hearing will be scheduled where the judge will decide whether the adoption is in the best interest of the child. Having an attorney present on your behalf at the hearing can make the experience less stressful for you and your family. An attorney can help argue your case and increase the chances of the desired outcome.

There a few steps to complete to ensure the adoption is in the best interest of the child:

  • Home visits (or home study) by a social worker—if you have been married to the biological parent for at least two years, the court can waive the home visit. For this reason, many couples decide to wait until the two-year mark to make the process easier.
  • Criminal background check

Also, if the child to be adopted is 12 years or older, he or she must also consent to the adoption in writing. In North Carolina, you can also adopt a stepchild over the age of 18, so long as the stepchild consents.

Contact Us

Stepchild adoption is an important decision for a family that has many legal consequences. Every situation is different and should be treated with extreme care to ensure the best interest of the child. Adoptive stepparents attempting to go through the adoption process alone run the risk of dealing with unexpected setbacks and delays. If you are thinking about adopting a stepchild, make the process easier for your family and partner by retaining the help of a caring attorney from Marshall & Taylor PLLC.

Our experienced team is ready to help make the process smoother and get you to your desired outcome. The Raleigh adoption attorneys at Marshall & Taylor PLLC have established a reputation for putting family’s needs first and achieving optimal results. Do not let the legal complexities surrounding adoption deter you from adopting a stepchild. Call us today at (919) 833-1040 to schedule your consultation.