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What Should I Know Before Adopting a Stepchild in Illinois?

 Posted on March 28, 2024 in Adoption

IL family lawyerWhen you adopt a stepchild, you become the child’s legal parent. This means that you will be granted certain rights and have legal responsibilities toward the child as if he or she were born to you. Adoption, therefore, requires careful planning and attention to the legal process. Adoption law can be complex, which is why you should consult with an experienced attorney who can walk you through it. 

Factors to Consider Before Adopting a Stepchild

Here are a few basic questions you might want to ask yourself before adopting a stepchild:

  • How old is the child?
  • Where are the child’s parents?
  • How is your current relationship with the child?
  • What needs does the child have and can you meet those needs?
  • Is this adoption in the best interest of the child?
  • How long will the adoption process take?
  • What will life be like after adoption?
  • What responsibilities will you have towards the child?

Remember that the State of Illinois — through a court judge and/or the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) — will be seeking their own answers to the above questions, so make sure adoption is the best move for you and your stepchild.

What Are the Legal Criteria for Adopting a Stepchild?

A stepfather or stepmother might consider adoption if the child has no other guardian or to solidify his or her parental relationship with the child in the case of a blended family. In either case, Illinois adoption law requires that certain criteria be met:

  • The stepparent, or petitioner, will need to show proof that he or she is the stepparent, such as with a marriage certificate naming the child’s other parent.
  • The stepparent must have lived in Illinois for at least six months or be a service member stationed in Illinois for at least 90 days.
  • If the other parent is alive, he or she must either consent to the adoption or their right to consent must have been terminated by a court.
  • If the child is at least 14 years old, he or she must consent to the adoption.

What is the Legal Process for Adopting a Stepchild?

If all those needs are met, there may be a background check on the stepparent and home studies to assess if the stepparent’s environment and living circumstances are safe for the child. A court hearing will be scheduled where a judge will take all factors into account and decide whether to grant an adoption decree.

Consult with a DuPage County, Illinois Adoption Lawyer

Adoption can be a very delicate process that requires empathy along with strict adherence to the law, so make sure to choose compassionate and experienced attorneys. Schedule a consultation with qualified Lombard, Illinois adoption attorneys at A. Traub & Associates by contacting them at 630-426-0196. We are aggressive at getting the best results possible.

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