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JD 1992
JD 1992, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33938
Experience:  Began practicing Family Law in 1992
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What are the steps I need to take to adopt my step child?

Customer Question

What are the steps I need to take to adopt my step child?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

In adoption cases you have to serve the parents with the petition to terminate their rights.

Then, the court is going to insist that an ad litem (usually an attorney ad litem) be appointed to represent the child and then any parents that don't show up if they don't hire a lawyer then the court will appoint one for them as well so that all the requirements of due process are met.

Usually you do the termination and adoption at the same time and the actual process follows this general pattern:

1) The Petition to Terminate Parental Rights and Petition for Adoption are filed with the court

2) The Petitions are served on the other side

3) The Respondents file their Answer, if they choose to do so.

4) The judge will appoint the ad litem for the child

5) The judge orders a home study, social study, genetic study, criminal background check, etc. for the adoption portion. Sometimes the lawyer can get the judge to waive one or more of these since the child has been residing with you for a while but technically they're supposed to be done.

6) The lawyer will prepare a waiver of parental rights for the mother to sign and have notarized if she agrees. However, the waiver has to follow a strict pattern and it's sometimes hard to get the prisoner to initial correctly, sign correctly, etc. and so this may require repeated tries or even a visit to the prison by the attorney with a notary from their office or locally.

7) If there is no agreement, the judge hears any pretrial matters (rare in these types of cases)

8) The case is set for a final hearing. At the final hearing each side presents their evidence if it is not agreed and the judge rules.

9) If the termination is agreed and granted then the judge goes directly into the adoption hearing and grants it. If the termination was contested and the judge granted the termination then they can go directly into the adoption but usually they will wait the thirty days to see if an appeal is filed.

10) At the adoption hearing the judge grants the adoption and signs the order.

11) A certified copy of all papers are sent to appropriate government agencies to correct birth certificates, change names, etc.

As I said earlier, any minor change in facts can cause any of these things to change somewhat but this procedure will always follow the general pattern.

Expert:  JD 1992 replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry, I put "the mother" in a couple of those because I had just read a similar question where that was the facts. You would terminate the rights of whichever parent you are stepping into the shoes of in the adoption.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do you happen to know how it may work for active duty service members? I am in the Army and wondered if they offer any legal representation for this process.
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 1 year ago.

I understand the JAG corps will help with this sometimes, but I don't know any of the rules on that.

Expert:  JD 1992 replied 1 year ago.

That's based on 20+ year old info and a law school friend of mine whose husband was in the JAG.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok. Thank you. I will talk to my JAG office tomorrow.
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 1 year ago.

You're very welcome and good luck with this.

Best wishes to you and please don't forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work.