Getting to know the children of your new spouse has probably been one of the most rewarding aspects of your marriage. In fact, you may have become so close to your stepchildren that you want to take on the responsibility of being their legal parent. The good news is that stepparent adoption may make your dream a reality.
The state of Virginia not only permits stepparents to adopt stepchildren, but the process may go more smoothly than other types of adoption since you already have a relationship with your stepchildren. Here is a look at what you might expect.
Steps needed for stepparent adoption
To proceed with adoption, you must file your petition with your local circuit court. State law requires that the custodial birth parent signs the petition with you, establishing that the parent agrees to your adoption. Your petition may also state whether you wish to change the names of your stepchildren.
Assuming there are no other issues or the court does not require an investigation, the court may issue a Final Order of Adoption.
The custody rights of the other parent
To allow your adoption to move forward, you must know where the noncustodial parent stands. It is possible the other parent will consent to your adoption, but if not, a court will have to step in and determine that your adoption is in the best interests of your stepchildren.
Other situations may allow stepparent adoption. The other parent may have died or was the father of the children but denies paternity. Your spouse might be the mother and swears under oath that she does not know who the father is and there is no reasonable way to find out.
Stepparent adoptions can vary
The end result of becoming a legal parent to your stepchildren can enrich the lives of everyone involved. Remember that your situation will differ from other stepparents seeking to adopt, so you may need to check your legal options to see how to proceed.