With today’s families becoming more blended than ever, we often receive questions like, “Can my husband adopt my child?” “If I get married, can my husband or wife adopt my child?” “What steps do I need to take for a stepparent adoption?”
Completing a stepparent adoption in South Carolina is a rather straightforward process, and attorney Jim Thompson can make sure you follow all the necessary laws to successfully adopt your spouse’s child. Fortunately, adopting a stepchild is generally more straightforward than other kinds of adoption.
We are available to discuss your stepparent adoption at any time if you call us at 864-573-5533. In the meantime, here are some things you should know about adopting a stepchild in South Carolina.
How to Adopt a Stepchild in S.C.
State laws say that any person can adopt his or her spouse’s child, and unlike other adoptions, you will not need to complete any screening or counseling unless it’s deemed necessary by the court.
To adopt a stepchild, you’ll likely have to submit an adoption petition to the court. You’ll need the consent of your spouse (who is the legal parent of the child) and, if the child is 14 years or older, the child will need to consent as well.
The only complicated part of a stepparent adoption in South Carolina can be the consent of the child’s other (noncustodial) legal parent. In order for you to adopt a stepchild, that child’s other parent must have their parental rights terminated. A parent’s rights can be terminated, voluntarily, by the non-custodial parent signing a consent to the adoption. The non-custodial parent’s rights can also be judicially terminated, where a judge determines that a ground for termination of parental rights has been met according to the TPR Statute (63-7-2570) and that TPR is in the child’s best interest. We are prepared to help you obtain that consent if your individual situation is more complicated.
Once the petition is filed, a judge will have to approve it at a finalization hearing. Your stepparent adoption will then be complete.
When you choose to adopt a stepchild, you may be eligible for up to $1,500 for nonrecurring adoption costs from the state of South Carolina. We can help you determine whether you’re eligible based on your individual situation.
But Why Adopt a Stepchild?
If you’re already fulfilling parental duties as a stepparent and have a strong parent-child bond with your stepchild, you might wonder why you need to formalize your relationship with an adoption. However, as a stepparent, you have no legal parental rights to your spouse’s child — so, if something were to happen to your spouse, you may have to enter a complicated legal battle if you wanted custody of their child.
To protect your legal rights to your stepchild, we highly recommend you complete a stepparent adoption. Here are some of the benefits you’ll receive:
- The ability to easily pass along inheritance to your stepchild and add them to your insurance
- A feeling of familial permanence and stability by legally recognizing your family relationship
- Ease of completing parental duties, like picking your child up from school or attending their doctor’s appointments with them
- And more
It’s important to know that a stepparent adoption does not change the child’s legal relationship with your spouse. In a step-parent adoption, unless the court order states otherwise, parental rights of the non-adopting spouse are not affected.
If the biological parent and spouse were to separate or divorce, the court could look to either parent for custody or support of the child. No legal preference would be given to the birth parent over the adoptive parent.
How to Begin Your Stepparent Adoption in S.C.
While stepparent adoptions in South Carolina are straightforward, you will need the legal counsel of a professional attorney to complete the process. Our extensive knowledge of South Carolina law will ensure that your stepparent adoption is completed efficiently depending on your situation. We can help you file all necessary paperwork, obtain the consent of your stepchild’s other parent and complete any other legalities needed to finalize your stepparent adoption.
To get started today, please contact attorney Jim Thompson at 864-573-5533.