My Husband Wants to Adopt My Child in North Carolina. What are the Rights of My Child’s Biological Parent?

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Your spouse has already taken on the role of a parent, shouldering the responsibilities and forging a deep emotional connection. Now, it’s time for him to secure his relationship with his stepchild and gain the legal recognition and decision-making authority he deserves. Adopting gives your spouse the same rights as a biolgical parent and can strengthen your family bond. It secure’s your child’s right to a continuing relationship with your spouse as a parental figure. It also terminates disruptive interference from an uninvolved biological father.

At Mills Adoption Law, we anticipate and plan for life’s challenges so they don’t become barriers to accomplishing your objectives. If you’re searching online, “my husband wants to adopt my child, continue reading to learn more about the stepparent adoption process, then call us at (919) 306-2899 to schedule a free, 15-minute consultation with our adoption lawyer.

What Are the Benefits of Stepparent Adoption?

Stepparent Adoption provides many benefits for stepparent and child, giving your husband the ability to:

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

How Do Stepparent Adoptions Work in North Carolina?

Under North Carolina law, a child can have a maximum of two legal parents; therefore, the rights of the other biological parent must be terminated as a part of the adoption process  . A stepparent may adopt a child if the situation meets specific conditions:

  • The court must approve the adoption in the county where the adoption is taking place.
  • If the child’s other biological parent is still alive, they must receive notice of the proposed adoption . Notice does not necessarily mean that consent from the other parent is necessary. Determining whether consent is necessary, is discussed later.

There are Four Ways to Proceed

  1. Obtain the parent’s consent.
  2. File a petition for adoption and serve the parent with notice of the petition. If the parent fails to object, proceed without him or her.
  3. If the parent objects, the court determines whether his consent is necessary, if not proceed without him or her.
  4. If the court determines that the consent of the other parent is required, then file a petition for termination of parental rights if grounds exist.

If the biological parent supports the adoption, they will typically sign a document known as a  consent form that terminates their legal relationship with the child. The biological parent must sign this form in front of a notary public.

Without the other biological parent’s consent, proving that the adoption is in the child’s best interests becomes critical. If the biological parent does not consent to the adoption, a court order may terminate parental rights involuntarily. The court may determine this course of action if it deems the biological parent unfit or if the biological parent has voluntarily abandoned the child for at least six months.

When determining whether to terminate parental rights involuntarily, the court considers several factors, including:

  • The ability of the parent to provide adequate care and support for the child
  • The amount of contact the parent has had with the child in the past
  • The parental rights or responsibilities of any other person involved in the case

Once the the rights of the biological parent have been addressed, a stepfather can legally adopt the child.

What Does North Carolina Require for Stepparent Adoptions?

It’s a relatively straightforward process to adopt a stepchild in North Carolina, which begins with the stepparent meeting the following legal requirements:

  • Before filing the adoption, adoption law requires that you have lived in NC for at least six months
  • If the child is 12 or over, they must consent to the adoption
  • You must be married to one legal parent of your stepchild
  • You must live with your child and your spouse
  • If you have been married for more than two years, you may not need a home study

How Does My Husband File to Become an Adoptive Parent to My Child?

First, your husband must file a Petition for the Adoption of a Minor Child (Stepparent). As the biological parent and spouse of the stepparent, you must complete a consent form. If the child is 12 or older, they must complete a consent form, too. If the other biological parent agrees with the adoption, they complete a form stating their agreement.

Going to court may not even be required if everyone involved agrees to the adoption. After the minimum 90-day waiting period, the court could simply approve the paperwork.

What if the other biological parent objects? In that case, the court must schedule a hearing to decide whether to approve the adoption.

What About  Notice to the Other Parent in a Stepparent Adoption?

Every biological parent is entitled to notice of the proposed adoption and that their parental rights may be terminated.

The notice must be delivered by certified mail, express mail, sheriff, or private process server so that we can prove personal delivery to the recipient.

If you do not have a current address, we are required to exercise due diligence in searching the public records and other resources for an address where we can attempt to personally serve a notice of the adoption on the other parent. We must then attempt personal service at any viable address. Only after we have attempted personal service and failed (because the respondent is not at the addresses of record), then we are required to publish a notice in the newspaper. Service by publication is the least effective means of service and is less desirable because it may require us to publish your name or your child’s name for proper service.

You might want to skip notifying the other parent and move your case through the court, but this option is not viable. The court requires proof that you have served the paperwork to the other parent or made significant efforts to locate them. If you have successfully served the other parent, but they fail to respond, you can request the court to waive their consent. However, serving the other parent with the necessary paperwork or making a diligent effort is critical.

What If My Child’s Other Biological Parent Objects to the Stepparent Adoption?

If the other biological parent objects to the proposed adoption, the court can terminate their rights involuntarily.

To involuntarily terminate the other biological parent’s rights, you must demonstrate it is in the best interests of the child to terminate the parental rights of the biological parent—no easy task because you typically must prove severe abuse or neglect.

The court is not interested in comparing the stepparent’s involvement or job status. Instead, it focuses solely on the biological parent’s ability to provide basic parental care.

Proving the termination of a biological parent’s rights is crucial when seeking a favorable outcome. The most substantial evidence for termination is demonstrating abandonment, specifically when the other biological parent has not seen or supported the child in at least six months. By presenting these facts to a judge, you can argue that terminating the parent’s rights is in the best interest of the child. Remember that courts prioritize maintaining a child’s relationship with their biological parents, except in extreme cases. Therefore, if a biological parent does not consent to a stepparent adoption, winning the can be challenging, even if the older child desires the adoption.

After a Stepparent Adoption, What Happens to the Rights of the Other Biological Parent?

In North Carolina, a child may have two legal parents. When a court approves a stepparent adoption, the other biological parent loses their legal rights, including contacting the child and accessing their medical and school records. Additionally, any child support payments from the biological parent end with the approval of the adoption. If any outstanding child support is in arrears, the biological parent must pay it off but will not accrue new support obligations.

After A Stepparent Adoption, What Rights Does My Husband Have?

Stepparent adoption transforms a stepparent into a fully recognized parent to the child, with the same rights and responsibilities as a biological parent, including access to medical and school records. In the event of a future divorce, regardless of biological or stepparent status, both parents have equal rights to pursue primary custody and parenting time. North Carolina custody laws do not favor biological parents over stepparents who have legally adopted the child. Furthermore, both parents are legally obligated to financially support the child. Therefore, if your husband wants to adopt your child, you and he must fully comprehend the implications and responsibilities involved.

Mills Adoption Law—Experience for What Matters Most: Family

If your husband wants to provide a safe and loving home for your child through the stepparent adoption process, choose the right adoption attorney by consulting a law firm that focuses exclusively on adoption. Bobby Mills, the 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 complete the online form to schedule your free, 15-minute consultation.

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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