Stepchild Adoption

Considered one of the most common forms of adoption in the United States, stepchild adoption has similar regulations to a standard adoption in Tennessee.

The Nashville child custody and support attorneys of MTR Family Law, PLLC have spent three decades helping families throughout Tennessee with their adoption needs. Let us guide you through the process as you make two families, one.

What is Stepchild Adoption?

According to the 2009 U.S. Census, 16 percent of children live in a blended family. As these families grow, parents are looking to verify their status legally through stepchild adoption. 

Many families may already function in a stepparent-coparent setting, but formalizing the arrangement gives the stepparent a say in the child’s life such as healthcare and education.

A family looking to undergo stepchild adoption must remember that:

  • Children over the age of 14 must give their consent to the adoption.
  • The absent biological parent must consent to relinquish his or her parental rights.
  • Previous court provisions such as visitation and child support payment may be terminated as part of the agreement.

Stepparents may also be asked to complete a parenting class and a home study with a social worker. 

Even though the family may already be living together, parents may also have to submit financial and medical records to the social worker assigned to the case. 

The stepparent can then file their application with the court and upon the hearing, the judge will consider the adoption application and any supplemental materials required including the child’s feelings on the adoption. 

For as many as ten days after the hearing, other relatives have the opportunity to contest the adoption. After the ten day period, the judge will make a ruling and finalize the adoption.

Issues That May Arise

One of the most common issues that may arise in a stepchild adoption is that the biological parent does not relinquish their parental rights. It can be a costly and lengthy process that should be considered as a possibility in adoption litigation. 

In order for a petition to terminate parental rights to be approved, the court will consider child abandonment, abuse or neglect, incarceration, and mental incompetence. However, if the parent has made changes that would be in the best interest of the child, the court may choose to not terminate the parental rights.

Stepchild adoption can unify a family but also be a complicated situation that needs a deft hand to guide you through the process. We can help.


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