Thinking Of Adopting Your Stepchild? Here Are A Few Reasons Why You Should
When an individual with one or more children remarries, his or her new spouse may have the option to adopt the children. This is possible only if the children’s other biological parent consents to the adoption or if his or her parental rights are terminated – a child can only have two legal parents.
Stepparent adoption creates a legal bond between a child and his or her stepparent. Without adopting your spouse’s child, you can still have a meaningful relationship with him or her. But unless you adopt the child, you cannot have the same legal rights that a parent has.
As a Legal Parent, you Have Certain Rights
The only way to have the following parental rights to your child is to be his or her legal parent:
- To seek parenting time with him or her in a divorce;
- To seek child support to cover your expenses associated with raising him or her;
- To list him or her as a dependent on your taxes;
- The right to make critical decisions on the child’s behalf, like decisions regarding his or her medical care and his or her education;
- To cover him or her as a dependent on your health insurance; and
- To guarantee that he or she receives a share of your assets after your passing. This point is a bit more complex than the others, because you certainly can leave assets to your spouse’s child in your will even if you do not legally adopt the child. But if your estate is subject to probate, having that legal link will ensure that your stepchild receives a fair share of your assets.
If your Marriage Ends, your Relationship with your Child Will Not
As we mentioned, you have the right to establish a parenting plan and seek child support for your child if you are his or her legal parent. Otherwise, a divorce can mean the end of your relationship with your spouse’s child.
You will Solidify your Relationship with your Stepchild
For many families, legally adopting a stepchild is a formal step that strengthens the bond between the child and the parent. Whether the adoption has significance beyond its legal ramifications for your family depends on how you and the child feel about it. Talk to him or her about how legally adopting him or her will affect your relationship to determine how much significance the adoption will have – for some families, it changes nothing and adoption day is just another day. For others, it is an event to celebrate and mark its anniversary each year.
Work with an Experienced Tampa Family Lawyer
If you are considering adopting your spouse’s child, learn more about the stepparent adoption process by speaking with an experienced family lawyer in Tampa. To get started with a member of our team, contact Bubley & Bubley, P.A. today to set up your initial legal consultation in our office.