Adopting Your Stepchild in North Carolina: What Stepparents Must Know

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Adopting Your Stepchild in North Carolina: What Stepparents Must Know

Are you the stepparent of a child whose biological parent is not in the picture? Going through with a legal adoption may be a good choice for your family. It is likely that you have assumed the practical responsibilities of day to day parenting and developed an emotional parent-child relationship. Maybe it is time to legally protect your relationship with your stepchild and be recognized as a legal parent with the authority to make decisions.

However, it’s vital to approach the stepchild adoption process strategically to ensure that it goes smoothly and accomplishes your goals.

Below, our North Carolina adoption lawyer explains everything you need to know about adopting your stepchild in North Carolina. After reading, contact Mills Adoption Law at (919) 306-2899 to schedule a free, 15-minute consultation.

Benefits of Adopting a Stepchild

Adopting your stepchild through a legal adoption process can benefit your relationship with them. You will have legal rights that enable you to:

  • Cover the child in your insurance policies
  • Make medical decisions on their behalf
  • Change the child’s last name during the adoption
  • Enroll the child in school
  • Access the child’s records, like their birth certificate
  • Give the child inheritance rights

Requirements for A Stepchild Adoption in NC

Adopting a stepchild in North Carolina is a relatively straightforward process. First, you’ll need to ensure that you meet the legal requirements. The basic requirements for stepchild adoption in NC include the following:

  • You must have lived in NC for at least six months before filing the adoption.
  • The child must consent to the adoption if they are 12 or older.
  • You must be married to one legal parent of your stepchild.
  • You must live with the child and your spouse.
  • If you have been married more than two years, you may not need a home study.

What About the Other Biological Parent?

According to North Carolina law, a child may have no more than two legal parents. If the parent you are looking to “replace” is still alive, they must consent to the adoption or have the court involuntarily terminate their rights to complete the adoption process. Without the parent’s consent, you must show that the adoption is in the child’s best interests.

To adopt a stepchild without both parents’ consent, you will need the help of a lawyer. We recommend working with an adoption attorney through this process.

Stepchild Adoption Process

While every stepchild adoption is different, you can expect your adoption to follow this general process:

  • Filing a petition: Your first step is filing a petition for a minor child’s adoption by a stepparent.
  • Consent: The child (if they are 12 or older) and at least one biological parent must consent to the adoption.
  • Marriage: Next, you’ll need to provide the state with proof that you have been married to their legal parent for at least six months.
  • Home visits: The court will require two postplacement visits and a report to the court. Someone will come to your home and meet with you and the child, and then file a report
  • Notice of adoption: If any other parent has not consented the adoption, the court will require that he or she be given notice of the adoption.
  • Approval from the court: From the time your petition for adoption is filed, it may take three to twelve months to complete the adoption process.

While adopting your stepchild may seem like it should be easy, you may still encounter issues along the way. Working with a qualified stepparent adoption lawyer can help you streamline this process and approach each step correctly.

Other Things to Consider

If the child’s other biological parent currently pays child support, these payments will end once you become their legal adoptive parent. The only exception is if the parent still owes back payments.

Mills Adoption Law—Experience for What Matters Most: Family

If you’re considering adopting your stepchild, choose a law firm that focuses exclusively on adoption. Adoption attorney Bobby Mills, founder of Mills Adoption Law, has over 35 years of experience in family law, enabling him to provide the specialized, informed guidance you need. Having represented all members of the adoption triad—adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees—he has seen things and can anticipate problems other attorneys will not anticipate. Contact him at (919) 306-2899 or fill out our online form to schedule your free, 15-minute consultation.

Mills Adoption Law. Experience for what matters most. Family.

Copyright © 2023. Mills Adoption Law. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Mills Adoption Law
4600 Marriott Dr, Ste 350
Raleigh, NC 27612
(919) 306-2899

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