By: Sarah Stewart Legal Group
In our office we get a lot of questions about adoption. But, the majority of those questions are from blended families who want to know about step-parent adoptions.
Often, when one parent is out of the picture, for whatever reason, the remaining parent will marry and the new spouse will connect with the children in a way that makes them want full, legal custody of the children.
For Oklahoma families, the step-parent adoption process is similar to other adoptions, but there are a few differences.
For a step-parent to adopt in Oklahoma, they must be married to the biological parent of the child for at least one (1) year. That means the couple must be legally married for the partner to adopt the child. So, boyfriends and girlfriends cannot adopt in Oklahoma. Sorry, guys.
The biological parent will have to participate in the adoption process and consent to the adoption. The couple will attend hearings and file documents together.
The couple can ask the Court to forego certain requirements of other adoptions, such as home studies and waiting periods, if the waiver would be in the best interests of the child, the child has lived with the new parent for at least one (1) year, and the new parent has no history of child abuse, neglect, domestic violence, or victim protective orders against them.
Other Parent’s Rights and Consent
If at all possible, the adopting couple will need to get consent from the other biological parent. Sometimes this can be difficult because the other parent may have disappeared, be imprisoned, or refuse to agree, despite their lack of contact with the child.
If you cannot get consent, or do not know where the other parent is, you can still get an adoption without consent, but only if certain requirements are met.
The most typical requirements we find in our cases are no contact with the child for twelve (12) of the last fourteen (14) months, not including “token” communications such as holiday and birthday cards; and/or not supporting the child for twelve (12) of the last fourteen (14) months.
If the child is over the age of twelve (12), the child will have to consent to the adoption as well.
Once the adoption is complete, the step-parent will become the legal parent of the child. They will be responsible for the same things any parent would and have the same rights as any other parent. For instance, if the couple divorces after the adoption, the new parent will have full rights to custody and visitation with the child.
What Court Do I File In
The couple will file for adoption in the County where they have lived with the child for at least six (6) months. If the child is, or could be, a member of an Indian tribe, the tribe must be informed and special procedures followed.
Though anyone can file court documents and begin court cases on their own, hiring an experienced legal professional can save you a lot of time, stress, and anxiety.
If you need help with a Step-parent adoption, don’t hesitate to call or email us today!