Many parents who adopt step-children have wanted to do so for some time. In some cases, step-parents see the adoption as the next logical step in becoming the child’s legal parent. This kind of adoption offers several advantages, including the ability to make healthcare and education-related decisions and the ability to pass on assets as an inheritance.

Recognize the Limitations of Adoptions

While there are many advantages and reasons why step-parents should consider adopting a child or children, there are also several significant potential disadvantages to adopting a child. Some of these downsides include the requirement to pay child support and other types of contributions toward the child’s health. In situations in which you end up divorcing the other parent, you also will likely be required to contribute financially to the child’s well-being. It is critical to make sure that you are committed to becoming a permanent parent to your step-child prior to adoption.

The Challenge of Terminating Parental Rights

Adopting a step-child is comparable to any other type of adoption in the state of Georgia, with some small differences. One unique point is that it is sometimes much more difficult to adopt a step-child because consent must first be obtained from the child’s biological parents. While it is often easy to obtain the consent of your spouse, the other non-custodial parent may not be willing to terminate parental rights. In only a few limited situations will a court grant custody when a biological parent does not approve. These situations include when the biological parent can not be located, when the other parent has not had any type of “meaningful” communication with the child for at least a year, or when the parent has failed to pay court ordered child support payments.

The Application Process Following Termination

If the court decides that it is appropriate to terminate parental rights, the next step in the process is to file a legal application, which will include your marriage license, the child’s birth certificate, and consent from the biological parent. If the child is 14 or older, he or she must also provide consent to the adoption. Given the strict requirements associated with these applications, many parents benefit from the assistance of a knowledgeable family law attorney.

The Possibility of a Home Study

In some step-children adoptions, a court of law might request a home study. Sometimes, letters of consent might be enough to convince a judge that a home is a nurturing environment for a child. Frequently, you can expect to attend several court hearings before receiving a certification of adoption and parental rights.

Speak with a Georgia Family Law Attorney

There are some unique laws in Georgia regarding the adoption of a step-child, which is why you should make certain to obtain the services of a skilled family law attorney to navigate this process. Contact Vayman & Teitelbaum P.C. today to schedule an initial consultation, during which time we can better outline what you can expect from the adoption process.