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Wheaton relative adoption lawyer

Adoption is the legal process for assuming parental responsibilities for another person’s child. Adopting a child from an agency is an option for couples to grow their family if they cannot conceive on their own. However, there are other types of adoption, including stepparent adoption. In these cases, an individual with a stepson or stepdaughter may want to consider legally becoming the child's parent. If you are considering a stepparent adoption, speaking with an experienced family law attorney can ease your concerns as you walk through the legal process in Illinois.

A Relative Adoption Versus an Agency Adoption

A stepparent adoption does not involve the same process as an international or Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) adoption. Here are a couple of differences between them:

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DuPage County stepparent adoption attorneyBecoming a step-parent can be an overwhelming life change, whether you have biological children of your own or not. Approximately 40 percent of American families are blended families, making stepparenting a common occurrence. It can be a challenge to balance the desire to befriend your spouse’s child and earn their affection with the need to parent them when the time comes. Many stepparents form strong bonds with their stepchildren, and they should be sure to understand their rights and legal obligations both during their marriage and if divorce ever enters the picture. 

Throughout the Marriage

  • Discipline: Many stepparents leave discipline to their spouse, especially when they first join the family, but as time goes on, more and more responsibility can get placed in their hands. It is important to have a conversation with your spouse about parenting expectations. Though it may not feel like it, you must remember that discipline is intended to benefit the child, and as a parent, the child’s safety should be your first priority.
  • Education: Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), stepparents are allowed to receive and review their stepchildren’s school records. FERPA defines a parent as "an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian,” thus giving stepparents educational rights in regards to their stepchild.
  • Traveling: There is no law stating that stepchildren and stepparents cannot travel alone together; however, it is important to have both biological parents’ permission, unless the stepparent has adopted the stepchild and become their legal parent. There are also consent forms that can be signed to ensure no legal action is taken against the stepparent.

After Divorce

  • Custody/Visitation: Stepparents and stepchildren often share relationships similar to biological parents and their children, especially when this relationship existed for most of the child’s life. If the biological parent decides that the stepparent cannot have visitation rights after divorce, there is often not much that a court can do, unless the stepparent has formally adopted the stepchild. Once the divorce is finalized, a stepparent will lack the biological and legal ties to the child that guarantee parental rights. A stepparent does typically have the right to request visitation, but the court may not grant visitation rights.
  • Solidifying Legal Rights: The only way to ensure legal rights of the child is through adoption. Many stepparents decide to adopt their stepchild, especially if the child’s other biological parent is no longer in the picture. It is easier to adopt the child before divorce, because the biological parents’ permission is required for an adoption.

Contact a Lombard Adoption and Divorce Attorney

Blending families and learning to be a good stepparent can be challenging tasks. Stepchildren often feel like one’s own children, and the possibility of losing the connection with them after divorce can be unthinkable. Our DuPage County family law attorneys can help you address your legal concerns regarding adoption, divorce, or other issues regarding your stepchildren. Contact us at 630-426-0196.

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Posted on in Adoption

DuPage County stepchild adoption lawyerChoosing to adopt a child is a life-changing decision for both the child and parent. In terms of adoption, many imagine a couple adding an infant to their family dynamic; however, this is only one form of adoption. Other types of adoption include stepparent, family related, domestic partnership, and uncontested adoptions. Stepparent adoptions are fairly common, and these particular adoptions have their own unique legal process. 

The Stepparent Adoption Process

The details of the adoption process are dependent upon each individual situation. Though it is a detail-oriented process that can take time, it often appears more difficult than it actually is. In a stepparent adoption, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Illinois Residency: For those seeking to adopt within the state of Illinois, residency is a requirement. The stepparent must be an Illinois state resident for at least six months before filing for the adoption.
  2. Absent Parent’s Consent: It is a legal requirement to have the consent of the absent parent; however, this can often be a difficult task. For those who cannot get in contact with the absent parent, exceptions can be made. A stepparent can adopt a child without the absent parent’s consent if the child has not had any substantial contact with the parent in over a year’s time.
  3. Child’s Consent: Illinois also requires the consent of the child if he or she is 14 years or older. This consent is made through the signing of a legal document.

As is the case with all legal processes, there are exceptions. Many children whose stepparents are attempting to adopt either do not know the whereabouts of their absent parent or do not know the identity of this parent. In cases such as these, prospective parents may ask the court to waive the requirement for the absentee parent’s permission. 

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Posted on in Adoption

Lombard adoption attorneyIf your spouse has a child from a previous relationship, you know how sensitive and complex issues related to parenting can be. While you may not be the child’s biological parent, it is understandable that you would wish to offer a positive, reliable adult influence for the child—not to mention an authority figure with whom the child is comfortable sharing concerns and problems. With time and effort, you are likely to find a sense of family starting to develop. In some situations, the bond becomes so strong that the stepparent is willing to take on the legal responsibilities of parenthood through the adoption process.

Is the Adoption Appropriate?

When you are thinking about a potential stepparent adoption, you must be aware that the decision to adopt affects the child as much or more than it affects you. You might ready, willing, and able to accept the duties of a legal parent, but that is not enough to make the adoption the right choice. If the child has a healthy, productive relationship with a second parent—other than your spouse—there is little reason to try to cut that parent out of the picture, and a stepparent adoption would probably not serve the best interests of the child. If, however, there is effectively no second parent or the other parent has shown to be uninterested in being a parent, your adoption might serve the child well.

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Posted on in Adoption

Lombard family law attorneyWhile it may seem cold and impersonal to reduce family relationships to mere statistics, the numbers can hardly be disputed. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that, thanks to increasing rates of remarriage and other factors, some 1300 new stepfamilies are formed every single day in the United States. It has become much more common and expected for a child to have a separate relationship with each parent and their respective new partners following their remarriages. In some cases, a child’s relationship with a particular stepparent becomes so strong that the stepparent may be inclined to legally adopt the child.

If you are thinking about adopting your stepchild, however, there are a number of things you will need to consider, including:

You Assume Full Parental Rights and Responsibilities

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Posted on in Adoption

stepparent adoption, Illinois law, Arlington Heights Family LawyerIn today’s world, blended families are becoming increasingly common. For some, it may be the result of a remarriage, while others are waiting longer to get married for the first time. Whatever the case, a marriage involving children from previous relationships can be both extremely challenging and very rewarding. What happens, however, when your new spouse expresses interest in pursuing the adoption of your child?

Why Adoption?

When you chose to marry your new spouse, you probably gave a great deal of thought to his suitability as a stepparent. Like most parents, you probably consider your child’s happiness and best interests in virtually every decision you make. Hopefully, the transition to a new parental situation has been a positive one for your child and his or her relationship with your spouse is becoming stronger every day. A stepparent bond does not require adoption to be effective; it is based on human interaction, trust, and mutual love.

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