Step-Parent Adoption Lawyers
Are Step Parent Adoptions Easy?
The step-parent adoption process is much easier if both of the child¿s biological parents consent to the adoption. However, a problem arises where one biological parent consents the adoption, but the other parent's consent cannot be obtained. Reasons for this include:
- One biological parent cannot be found or his whereabouts are unknown
- One biological parent refuses to consent to the adoption for personal reasons or out of spite
What If One Biological Parent Refuses To Consent To A Step-parent Adoption?
If one of the biological parents refuses to consent to the step-parent adoption, the other parent can bring a lawsuit in order to terminate his or her biological rights. One of the main grounds for such a lawsuit is "abandonment."
What Is Abandonment?
Abandonment is the deliberate action by a parent to leave his or her child behind or the refusal to assume parental responsibilities from the outset of the child¿s life. The parent bringing the lawsuit has to show that the non-consenting biological parent has disregarded his parental duties toward the child and permanently intends to do so.
What If No One Knows Where The Non-Consenting Parent Is Living?
Proving abandonment is much easier if the non-consenting parent has vanished for a period of six months or greater. In situations where the non-consenting parent's whereabouts have been unknown for a year or more, courts are very likely to grant a step-parent the right to adopt a child even if consent has not been given by the absent parent.
How Long Must It Be Shown That The Non-Consenting Parent Abandoned The Child?
Most states have time requirements for a showing of abandonment. The most common such requirement is proving that the abandonment existed for a year or more. However, some states¿ time requirements depend on the age of the child to be adopted. For example, Missouri requires a showing of six months for a child one year or older, and sixty days for a child under one year.
What Defenses Does The Non-Consenting Parent Have Against Abandonment?
Non-consenting parents may be able to raise claims in defense that:
- He or she maintained a satisfactory relationship with the child
- Adequate support was provided for the child
- Any surrender of custody of the child was temporary and in the best interests of the child
- His or her place of work or residence prevented visitation
- There was no intent to abandon the child
Do I Need A Lawyer To Help Me Prove Abandonment?
Because of the complexity of the adoption process, it may be wise to consult with a family lawyer. Speaking with an experienced family law attorney will help you understand your rights and obligations. Additionally, you will have a greater chance of proving abandonment with an attorney's assistance.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 10-05-2011 11:21 AM PDT
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