If you marry someone who already has children from a previous relationship, the legal union between you and their parent does not grant you any parental rights. If your stepchildren’s other parent is not in the picture, though, and it is in the family’s best interests for you to adopt them, you can pursue a stepparent adoption.
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, stepchild adoption is the most common form of adoption in the United States. The specific laws governing the process vary by state, but stepparents everywhere should be aware of the legal ramifications of adoption.
If you have adopted your stepchildren but you and your spouse are now considering divorce, you may be wondering how it is going to affect your parental rights. Turn to The Law Offices of Michael M. Raheb, P.A. to discuss your situation. Call 866-949-0888 to schedule a free consultation with a Naples child custody attorney.
Will I Retain Parenting Rights of My Adopted Stepchild in the Event of a Divorce?
If you have legally adopted your stepchildren, you have the right to pursue a child custody arrangement with your ex-spouse in the event of a divorce. Although the children are not biologically yours, you helped raise them, and you deserve to maintain a relationship with them regardless of the status of your relationship with their parent.
If you did not legally adopt your stepchildren before you and your spouse filed for divorce, the law is less clear on what your parental rights will be after the separation. Since you technically do not have any legal ties to the children, you cannot expect the court to order your ex-spouse to grant you custody or visitation rights after the divorce.
What Are the Legal Ramifications of Adopting a Stepchild?
Adopting a stepchild is a huge responsibility, and it essentially has the same legal obligations as having a child that is biologically yours. Before adopting any stepchildren, it is important to consider all of the legal ramifications of doing so, especially in the event of divorce.
When you adopt your spouse’s child, the court terminates the parental rights of the other biological parent—if they have not already been terminated—and essentially transfers them to you. You can learn more about getting consent from the other biological parent by visiting the official website for Florida Courts.
Once the court finalizes the adoption, the other biological parent is no longer responsible for making child support payments. Additionally, if you and your spouse eventually divorce, the court can order you to pay child support, depending on the circumstances of your financial situation. You will also have the right to custody and visitation, which means you can maintain a relationship with your adopted stepchild after the divorce.
If you are considering divorce and you have questions about child custody, asset division, or other family law matters, turn to The Law Offices of Michael M. Raheb, P.A. Call 866-949-0888 to schedule a free consultation with a child custody lawyer in Naples. You can learn more about child custody laws in Florida by visiting USAttorneys.com.