If you marry a person who has a biological or adopted child, you do not automatically become that child’s legal parent. In order to gain this status, you will need to complete the adoption process for stepparents in Pennsylvania.
While this process may involve less legal hurdles than other types of adoption, the stepparent who is marrying one of the child’s parents will still need to gain the consent of the child’s other biological parent. In some cases, terminating the other person’s parental rights can prove to be difficult.
Chester County Stepparent Adoption Lawyer
If are a stepparent who needs legal assistance in successfully completing a legal adoption, you will want to work with an experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney. Ciccarelli Law Offices helps clients all over Chester County, including West Goshen, Downingtown, West Chester, Kennett Square, Coatesville, Phoenixville, West Caln, and Easttown.
We will assist your family throughout the adoption process and help you become the legal parent of your stepchild.
Call (610) 692-8700 or send an online message for a free consultation so we can act as soon as possible. We are based in West Chester PA and serve clients throughout Chester County, Lancaster County and suburban Philadelphia including West Chester, Kennett Square, Oxford, Avondale, Landenberg, West Grove, Paoli, Malvern, Downingtown, Coatesville, Exton, Parkesburg, Berwyn and Devon. We have convenient meeting locations in Lancaster, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, and Radnor. Our family lawyers serve those with immediate legal needs in Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County and Lancaster County.
Chester County Stepparent Adoption Information Center
- Who is consent required from in adoption cases?
- What options does a prospective stepparent have if the biological parent refuses to relinquish parental rights?
- Are same-sex couples eligible to use this process?
In Pennsylvania adoption cases, consent is generally required from the following parties:
- The adoptee, if over 12 years of age
- The spouse of the adopting parent, unless he or she joins in the adoption petition
- The parents or surviving parent of an adoptee who has not reached the age of 18 years, unless parental rights have been terminated
- The guardian of an incapacitated adoptee
- The guardian or custodian of an adoptee under the age of 18 years
One of the primary challenges of stepparents looking to become legal parents to the children of their spouses is getting the other biological parents to give up their parental rights. A few of the ways this may be accomplished if a stepparent is unable to secure voluntary termination of the rights:
- Prove that the location of the other parent is unknown — If you can demonstrate to a judge that you performed an honest and thorough attempt to find the child’s other parent, such as online searches, newspaper publications, or contacting friends and family, the judge may involuntary terminate the other party’s parental rights.
- Demonstrate that the other parent has abandoned the child — Parental rights can be involuntary terminated if a parent has refused to pay child support, failed to communicate, or otherwise declined to perform parental duties.
- Demonstrate that the other parent is unfit — If the other parent is abusive, neglectful, incarcerated, or has proof of a drug or alcohol addiction that is not being treated, these could all affect the best interest of the child and be grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights.
- Presumed birth father is not really biological father — In certain cases, it may be possible to demonstrate that the person who was originally thought to be the child’s father was not actually the biological parent.
In the past, same-sex couples were not eligible to be legally considered a child’s stepparent because Pennsylvania law limited the definition of marriage to being between one man and one woman. As a result, same-sex couples were often forced to rely on second-parent adoption to gain legal parental rights.
However, the legislation that banned the recognition of same-sex marriages was ruled unconstitutional in 2014. As a result, same-sex marriage is now legal in Pennsylvania and these couples are also eligible for the adoptive rights of a legal stepparent. The second-parent adoption process can still be utilized by unmarried heterosexual or same-sex couples.
Find A Stepparent Adoption Lawyer in West Chester
Any adoption process in Pennsylvania can involve its own unique set of complications, but a knowledgeable family law attorney can help reduce the stress you and your partner have to face. Ciccarelli Law Offices helps stepparents in Chester County, Philadelphia County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Lancaster County gain their legal adoptive rights.
Our firm will work tirelessly to help you complete your family. Call the Ciccarelli Law Offices and we will provide a free consultation to review your case when you call (610) 692-8700.