Five Important Steps When Adopting A Stepchild
Adopting a stepchild is a blessing, and this type of adoption is one of the most common in Pennsylvania, and throughout the country. Although extending your family is a joyous time, there are many laws that govern stepchild adoption, and they can potentially make the process complex. Below, our Media adoption lawyer explains these laws, and the five steps involved in the process.
Obtaining Parental Consent
One of the most important, and sometimes the most challenging, is obtaining parental consent from both of the child’s biological parents. Children in Pennsylvania cannot have three legal parents, so the non-custodial parent must consent to giving up their parental rights. It is critical to work with a Media adoption lawyer, as they can make sure this step is handled properly so the adoption can continue.
Submit the Petition
After the other parent’s rights have been terminated, you must file a petition with the court, essentially requesting the adoption. Home studies and post-placement visits are unnecessary in stepchild adoptions, so this step largely involves different forms, filings, and documentation. A lawyer can also make sure these are properly completed and submitted.
Attend Court Hearings
Certain preliminary hearings may be necessary in your case to obtain the child’s consent, if they are over the age of 12 years old, and to confirm or clarify details outlined in the adoption petition. These preliminary hearings are meant to resolve any issues before the final adoption hearing.
Finalizing the Adoption
The final hearing is the last step in a stepchild adoption. If your case did not involve any preliminary hearings, a judge may take the opportunity to confirm or clarify the details of the adoption, or to obtain the consent of the child. The judge will issue an adoption certificate once they have cleared up all matters and have officially approved the stepchild adoption. The adoption certificate officially establishes that the stepparent is now the legal parent. The entire process from obtaining parental consent to the final hearing usually takes between 60 and 90 days.
Applying for a New Birth Certificate
One of the most important steps after finalizing an adoption is applying for a new birth certificate for the child. Applying for a new birth certificate will change the name of the stepchild’s parent from the non-custodial parent to the stepparent. If you decide to, you can also legally change the child’s last name when applying for a new birth certificate.
Call Our Adoption Lawyer in Media Today
If you would like to legally adopt your stepchild, you should not do so without the help of sound legal counsel. At Barbara Flum Stein & Associates, our Media adoption lawyer can guide you through the process, advise you of the steps along the way, and give you the best chance of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case. Call us now at 610-565-6100 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how our experienced attorney can help.