Who can file a stepparent adoption case?
An adult who is the stepparent of a child younger than 18 can file a stepparent adoption case. The child’s (the stepparent’s ) must also join together as a in the . See Texas Family Code 162.001(b)(2).
Is termination of parental rights required before a child can be adopted by his or her stepparent in Texas?
Where do I file (turn in) a stepparent adoption case?
How do I start a stepparent adoption case?
Can I hire a lawyer just to give me advice?
Does it cost anything to file (turn in) an Original Petition for Termination and Adoption or an Original Petition for Adoption?
Who is the “petitioner” in a stepparent adoption case?
A petitioner is the person who files, or opens, the lawsuit. In a stepparent adoption case, there are two petitioners:
Who is the “respondent” in a stepparent adoption case?
If the termination is agreed, the parent whose rights will be terminated should sign an “Affidavit of Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights.” This affidavit may state that no service is necessary. See Texas Family Code 161.103(c)(1).
Do I have to go to court?
The court may order an adoption evaluation to evaluate each party who requests termination of the parent-child relationship or an adoption suit. See Texas Family Code 107.153 and Texas Family Code 162.003. The court may also order the appointment of an attorney ad litem to represent the child(ren) in the case. See Texas Family Code 107.003 and 107.004. You can ask the judge to order one or the other. Sometimes though, the judge may order both. You will have to go to court after the case is opened to make these requests.
Does the child have to consent to the adoption?
If the child is 12 years of age or older, the child must consent to the adoption in writing or in court. Read the law here: Texas Family Code 162.010(c).
If the child is 10 years of age or older and the adoption will change the child’s name, the child must consent to the name change in writing. See Texas Family Code 45.002(b).
Note: The court may waive this requirement if it would “serve the child’s best interest.”
What gets decided in a stepparent adoption case?
A stepparent adoption (or a combined termination and adoption case):
- Terminates the parent-child relationship between the child and the child’s other parent
- Can terminate any other court-ordered relationship over the child
- Makes the adopted child the son or daughter of the stepparent
- Appoints the remaining parent and stepparent managing conservators of the child
- Ends the child support obligation of the terminated parent, except that any child support arrears still must be paid
- Creates the child’s right to inherit from the stepparent (Note: The termination and adoption can either cut off the child’s right to inherit from or through the adopted child’s other biological parent or the child’s right to inherit can remain in place.)
- Can change the adopted child’s name (if requested)
- Allows the parents to get the child a new birth certificate by completing the Certificate of Adoption form and giving it to the district clerk. Read more here.
Is it required that the child live with me before the adoption?
The law says that a child must live with the petitioner for at least six months before the court may grant an adoption. However, an exception applies if the petitioner asks the court to waive this requirement and find that this requirement is not in the child’s best interest. Read the law here: Texas Family Code 162.009.
Will the judge automatically approve (order) the stepparent adoption?
No. Adoption requires the court to make several findings:
- First, the child must be eligible to be adopted by having the child’s other parent’s parental rights terminated (if the child’s other parent is alive and has not already had his or her parental rights terminated by court order). For more information on termination of parental rights, read: FAQS: Terminating Parental Rights.
- Next, a judge must find the requirements for adoption have been satisfied and filed with the court. Some of the requirements include (there may be others particular to your case or ordered by your court):
- An adoption evaluation.
- Note: Some courts require the adoption evaluation to be completed by a person from the court’s list. Check with the clerk of the court if this is a local rule of your court.
- The results of the criminal history reports of the petitioners.
- A signed and verified affidavit concerning compliance (or noncompliance if it doesn’t apply) of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.
- Depending on the circumstances of your case and the parties’ interests, the court may require:
- The appointment of an attorney ad litem, guardian ad litem, or amicus attorney. Read the law here: Tex. Family Code 107.021.
- A child custody evaluation. Read the law here: Tex. Family Code 107.103. Talk with a family law lawyer familiar with the court where you will file the adoption petition about the likelihood of this being required in your case.
A certificate from the Texas Paternity Registry to make sure no other man has claimed paternity of the child.
- An adoption evaluation.
- Finally, the judge must find that the adoption is in the “best interest” of the child.
Will I be able to access the adoption case once it is closed?
Most petitions for termination and adoption will include a request to seal the records after the case is closed. This means the records will not be available as public record.
You can ask the judge to order that the adoption records remain open to you, your spouse (the other petitioner), and also your attorney, if you have one.
This article tells you about adopting a child in Texas.
This article contains information on terminating parental rights. This article was written by TexasLawHelp staff.
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