Being a stepparent can be rewarding as it gives you a certain sense of achievement. Stepparent adoption is the most common type of adoption around the world. However, for something as common as this, it is surprising that the number of resources helping new parents with issues related to adoption are scarce.
Many stepparents have issues with understanding the law when they encounter situations in which the legal rights associated with parenthood don’t apply to the relationship they have with their stepchildren. This makes stepparent adoption a major milestone for families.
Adoption is usually divided into two categories:
- Stepparent adoption
- Second parent adoption
Step-parent adoption is defined as a, ‘legal process by which the spouse of one of the biological parents legally adopts the child and the other biological parent cedes their parental rights.’
In a stepparent adoption, one of the parents is genetically related to the child. Adopting a stepchild is the most common form of adoption. The stepparent, after the adoption, becomes the legal parent of the child. He/she is fully responsible for the child and is legally responsible for making decisions regarding the child until he/she comes of age.
After the adoption goes through, the noncustodial parent no longer has any rights or responsibilities for the child, including child support.
Second Parent Adoption
Second parent adoption is defined as ‘adoption of a child by a second parent in the home who is not married to the legal parent.’
This type of adoption allows a couple, not genetically related to the child, to adopt the child without the “first parent” losing any parental rights. Adoptive parents usually have the same rights as biological parents in custody. The first parent is usually given certain visitation rights.
Both types of adoptions are governed by certain laws put forth by the government of Canada. In this blog, we have listed two of the most common issues parents face during the adoption process.
In order to adopt your stepchild, you have to get the consent of both your spouse and the child’s other parent unless and until the noncustodial parent has abandoned the child.
After giving the consent, the noncustodial parent gives up all rights and responsibilities. However, the significant issue that people generally encounter is obtaining consent. The consent of the noncustodial parent is mandatory for all stepparent adoptions unless the birth parent’s parental rights have been terminated for one reason or another.
Parents who still have a certain relationship with their children are reluctant to give up all of their parental responsibilities. In some cases, it is impossible to get the other birth parent to ask for their consent. In these situations, you can look into different types of child custody.
Terminating Birth Parent’s Parental Rights
Often the birth parents won’t terminate their parental rights. A stepparent can legally get a birth parent’s responsibilities terminated by proving the other parent abandoned the child, is unfit or is not the biological father/mother. However, for this you have to hire a good family lawyer, only then you will be able to win the case.
At this point, it is important to understand that abandonment can only be established if the other birth parent has continuously failed to provide child support or has abandoned the child for a year or longer. In addition to this, if you have evidence that the other birth parent is abusive, neglectful, or incarcerated, then, with the help of your family lawyer, you can request a fitness hearing with the court to determine if they are an unfit parent.
As a stepparent, you might feel emotional about your stepchild and might want to apply for adoption. However, the whole process is loaded with technicalities and legal issues. Hence, it is best to hire a family lawyer who understands the nitty-gritty of the court and knows what course of action to take.
Get Help From Peak Family Law
Peak Family Law can help you with your family law issues if you are searching for a reliable family lawyer in Edmonton. We have wide areas of practice and own your trust by giving confidential and professional services. If you would like to contact us or learn more about our services, you can contact us here.