Many adults marry, have children and wind up enduring a divorce that splits up the family unit. Some ex-spouses wind up meeting new people, initiating new relationships and getting married once again. When new relationships form and the potential spouses have children from prior relationships, adoption becomes a potential solution for establishing a new family unit with full parental rights in accordance with Louisiana law.

How stepparent adoption works

When you have one or more stepchildren in the household, you are not necessarily in charge of them. As a stepparent, must provide a suitable home that is habitable and treat your stepchildren in a reasonably good manner. However, you have no actual legal rights as a parent. To gain those rights, you need to go through the adoption process. If you are married to the mother or father of the stepchildren, you already have a firmly established relationship with a blood relative of the children. That means home visits and similar steps will not be needed and the adoption process can go much more quickly.

Biological parental permission needed

Even though you’re marrying one of your stepchild’s biological parents, the other biological parent still has parental rights. You need to obtain the consent of the biological parent whose role you’ll essentially fulfill in the newly formed family unit. Giving such consent will help to establish your parental rights in court. Unfortunately, that consent does not always come.

Terminating parental rights

If you want to adopt your stepchildren but the biological parent refuses to consent, there are remedies. If the biological parent is unfit, abandoned the child or did not provide child support, you could potentially end that parent’s parental rights. When the biological parent is unfit or otherwise shown to be much less than ideal, a Louisiana family court can order that parent’s rights to be terminated, which opens the pathway to adoption. A family law attorney experienced in Louisiana adoption procedures could a great asset in successfully arguing your case and obtaining court-recognized rights as an adoptive parent.

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