Blended families are more common today than they have been at any time in history. Many families stay as they are, with stepparents taking a role in their spouse’s children’s lives, believing that they have all the rights they need. But is that really the case?
For some, marriage is just a piece of paper. In that same light, many stepparents view legal adoption as “just a piece of paper.” They are the one raising the children with their new spouse, they are the one providing food and shelter, and they are the one helping with homework after school. Unfortunately, parenting, legally, is much more complicated than just the effort that is put in. If you are a stepparent, you may want to seriously consider legally adopting your stepchild. Here’s why.
1. Financial Considerations
If you adopt your stepchild, you will be legally responsible for providing for them, monetarily. This means that if you divorce their biological parent, you may be on the hook for child support. That said, adoption also makes your stepchild your legal heir. Should you pass away, they would be considered your next of kin and legally entitled to your estate.
2. Last Name
It may not seem like a big deal to adults, but many children find security in having the same last name as their parents. If you are a man who has married a woman with biological children, legal adoption means that you can all share the same last name.
You don’t want to think about it, but what would happen to your stepchildren if your spouse passed away? As a stepparent, you have no legal claim to the children and they could be placed with another family member, no matter how long they have been in your custody. Legal adoption means that should your spouse pass away, the children would remain with you.
4. Parental Rights
As a stepparent, you have no rights that aren’t granted to you by the biological parent, and even those aren’t really legal rights. When it comes to medical concerns, educational choices and more, you have no claim to the children. You are not legally able to make decisions. When you adopt the children, you have the same legal rights as a biological parent.
5. Severing Old Ties
If the biological parent of your stepchildren isn’t in the picture or there is neglect or abuse in the past, you and your spouse may want to sever ties with that parent. By asking them to relinquish their parental rights so that you can adopt the children, you have the chance to sever ties with someone who may not have cared enough about the children to begin with.
If you have stepchildren and are interested in pursuing legal adoption in Orlando, please reach out to our office. We understand state law and are here to assist you. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a case evaluation and discover more about how we can assist you and your family.