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Step by step -- The process of stepparent adoption

When you married your significant other, you knew that he or she had children from another relationship. Making a commitment to another person as your partner often means making a commitment to children as well. Many individuals living in Georgia choose to take it a step further and become the adoptive parent of a partner's biological child.

Creating a family with a partner can be life-changing. When you are ready to make the decision to take on responsibility for a child, there are certain steps you must take. Since you are not the legal custodian of the child, you will need to either obtain consent from the child's other birth parent or have his or her parental rights terminated, and then proceed through the court process.

Obtaining consent

Stepparent adoptions can be very simple if you have the consent of both the parents, but sometimes, obtaining this consent can be a challenge. When a parent gives up parental rights, he or she is terminating all responsibilities for a child and is no longer liable for child support, and he or she also will no longer have any legal say in the child's life. Some parents, even though they may not be heavily involved in a child's life, will not want to consent to this.

Termination of parental rights

Sometimes, giving up legal and physical custody to a stepparent is in a child's best interests. If a parent is struggling with a mental health or addiction issue, he or she may give consent, but if not, you may be able to petition to have the parent's rights terminated.

In certain instances, you may have a strong case for attempting to show that the other parent has abandoned the child, or that he or she is unfit to care for the child by presenting evidence in court. Finally, proving that a presumed father is not actually a child's biological father can also open up an avenue for legal adoption.

Getting additional help and support

Regardless of the family dynamics involved and the specific and unique circumstances of your situation, seeking additional help before proceeding into the legal process could prove invaluable to your cause. An experienced lawyer can answer all of your questions and concerns regarding the adoption process, and he or she can carefully guide you through this time toward what could become a very rewarding future.

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