Shelby County StepparentAdoption Lawyers
Agency and Foreign Adoptions
At Douglass & Runger, Attorneys at Law, we know that the bond between a parent and his or her child is one that is deeply meaningful and incredibly special. We also realize that a very close relationship can also develop between a child and a stepparent, despite the fact that no biological connection exists. In some situations, a stepparent may wish to formalize the bond with his stepchild by establishing a legal parent-child relationship. In Tennessee, this can be accomplished through a specific variation of the standard adoption process known as a stepparent adoption. If you are a stepparent who is considering adopting your stepchild, our Memphis adoption lawyers can guide you through the entire process.
The Basics of Stepparent Adoption in Tennessee
Under Tennessee law, a stepparent adoption follows a similar legal process that a traditional or standard adoption does, but there are a few important differences. In most adoption cases, there is a waiting period of six months before the adoption is finalized. During this time, the adoptive parents must usually undergo a home study to ensure that they are offering the child a suitable environment. In a stepparent adoption, both the home study and the waiting period can usually be waived due to the existing relationship between the child and the stepparent.
It is important to note that a child who is at least 14 years old must consent to a stepparent adoption. For a child under the age of 14, the judge will meet with the child privately to find out how the child feels about the situation. The child’s opinion will be considered by the court, but only as part of determining the child’s overall best interests.
Terminating Parental Rights in Memphis, TN
At the Memphis law firm of Douglass & Runger, Attorneys at Law, we know that the most challenging part of a stepparent adoption is often getting the child’s other parent to agree to the adoption. Under Tennessee law, a child can only have two legal parents. Since a stepparent adoption grants the stepparent full parental rights and responsibilities regarding the child, such rights and responsibilities must be relinquished by the child’s other legal parent—if there is one.
If you would like to adopt your stepchild, it is important to consider the child’s relationship with his or her other parent. For example, if your spouse’s former partner is actively engaged and involved with the child in a positive manner, he or she might not be willing to give up his or her rights. The court would also be unlikely to terminate his or her rights involuntarily. However, if the other parent is not involved or interested in the child, he or she may agree to the adoption. If he or she refuses, the court could issue an order that terminates his or her parental rights so that you can proceed with your adoption.