When you marry someone who already has kids of their own, you are legally considered a stepparent. You may want to adopt the children to be classified as a legal parent with more rights over the children. There may also be a situation where you and your spouse split up, your spouse passes away, or the marriage ends in divorce and you want to raise the children. In some cases, a biological legal parent can lose their parental rights after committing a crime or child abuse occurs. As the other caregiver, you might be wondering how you can obtain child custody to raise the children and prevent them from going to a foster home.
Navigating through these situations can be complicated depending on the circumstances. Do not hesitate to call an experienced Tennessee Family Law lawyer if you find yourself stuck.
When a Stepparent Can Adopt a Child
A stepparent can adopt a child when certain requirements are met. Tennessee adoption laws say you can adopt a child when you are at least 18 years old and have lived in Tennessee as an official resident for at least six months. Not meeting these two main requirements can prevent you from adopting the child.
Both you and your spouse must file a petition and since your spouse is the biological parent, your spouse will need to sign the petition too. The only exception to this is when your spouse is deemed legally incompetent. According to the courts, incompetence means not being old enough to make an informed legal decision or not understanding the legal decision due to a brain condition or the influence of drugs.
There is one exception to the requirement to live in Tennessee for six months. You do not have to abide by this rule if you lived in Tennessee for six months before you served in the military outside the state of Tennessee.
Steps for Stepparent Adoption
Now that you have figured out whether you qualify to adopt your spouse’s child, you now have to take the appropriate adoption steps to make this official. First, contact the court in your city that does adoptions. Find out if you need a lawyer and where the state forms are. You will need to fill out the adoption petition form and any online forms if these are required.
You may be asked for information like the child’s name, length of the marriage, what city the child was born in, and other details. A preliminary hearing may be scheduled, but this is often not the case for stepparent adoptions. After this, a social worker will visit your home for a certain length of time. If everything goes well, you will be issued an official adoption certificate. There may be adoption fees as well.
Family Law Lawyer in Tennessee
Adoption may not always go as smoothly as the way things are outlined here. You can call Davis Law Firm at 865-354-3333 today to talk to a Family Law lawyer in Tennessee. Our offices are located in McMinnville, Johnson City, Sparta, Kingston, Crossville, Cookeville, and the surrounding areas. A family law lawyer can help you when things are not going as planned.