Archive for the ‘Stepparent Adoption’ Category

Proceeding with a Stepparent Adoption

March 3rd, 2015 at 7:00 am

adoption, divorce, Illinois family lawyerThere is no law that says families have to be related by blood or by marriage. In fact, Illinois adoption law says the exact opposite.

While adoption often involves a single- or two-parent household bringing a new child into the family, that is not the only type of adoption. When a parent divorces and later remarries, the new spouse becomes a stepparent. In some cases, stepparents might want to officially adopt their spouse’s children. Stepparent adoption is one of the most common types of adoption and is a fairly simple process in Illinois.

However, adoption is not always an option for stepparents. There are three things that are important to understand about stepparent adoption:

  1. Stepparents looking to adopt their spouse’s children must be married to the custodial parent. Put another way, if the child’s other parent has residential or sole custody of the child, adoption as a stepparent is not likely to occur.

  2. Illinois law does not permit a child to have three legal parents. For the stepparent to adopt the spouse’s child, the other parent must terminate his or her parental rights (thereby forgoing all custody, visitation, and other parental rights afforded by law). If the other parent is deceased, such consent is unnecessary.

  3. If the other parent does not consent, the stepparent adoption may still proceed if the other parent is proven to be unfit.

Establishing Parental Unfitness

Statutory grounds for parental unfitness include, but are not limited:

  • Abandoning the child;
  • Deserting the child for a three-month period before the process of adoption;
  • Failure to maintain interest in or responsibility for the child’s well-being;
  • Failure to show interest in a newborn in the first 30 days following the child’s birth;
  • Failure to pay child support or attempt to provide financial support, despite being able to do so;
  • Evidence of repeated physical abuse; or
  • Statutory neglect.

Seeking the Child’s Consent

Stepparents also have to seek written consent from the child if the child is at least 14 years old. Once all parties have given their consent, or a parent has been found unfit, then the adoption process can proceed. The entire process can be completed within 90 days. (If the stepparent must establish parental unfitness, then the process will take longer.)

Putative Fathers

Keep in mind that a child born out of wedlock can also be adopted by a stepparent. The biological father can still object to the adoption as long as he registered with the Putative Father Registry within 30 days of the child’s birth.

If you are interested in adopting your stepchildren, contact one of our Chicago adoption attorneys to discuss your case today. We will help facilitate the process of adoption and answer any questions you may have. With office locations in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago, we are well-suited to serve the needs of clients throughout the region.