Adopting your partner’s children can be a big and rewarding decision in making your family complete. Once you have legally adopted a stepchild, there is no difference in the legal status between birth children of the marriage and children from another marriage. Here are a few things you need to know to get started.
Step 1: Prepare Yourself and Your Family
Be sure to discuss the decision to adopt the child thoroughly with your spouse and the child themselves. This can be a big change for the child and it’s important that they understand what this adoption will mean for them. Speaking with a counselor as a family can facilitate the change and make sure all parties are comfortable with the adoption.
Step 2: Gather the Necessary Documents
There are important documents that you will be required to present when you file your petition for adoption. These can include:
- The child’s birth certificate
- The biological parents’ divorce paperwork (if they were married)
- A death certificate if the absent parent has passed away
You should also be aware of adoption fees, attorney fees, counseling fees (if desired), and fees for the child’s new birth certificate.
Step 3: File Your Adoption Petition
The adoption petition is the legal document you file with the court requesting the court’s permission for you to adopt. The petition is typically tailored to your state and can cause problems down the road if any details are missing or incorrect. Because of this, it’s highly suggested for you to work with a family law attorney when going through the process.
Step 4: Finalize the Adoption
An adoption Clerk will review all documents provided, including the petition, note any deficiencies, and determine the next steps you need to take. Sometimes additional actions can be required, including:
- additional documentation
- criminal background checks
- proof of child consent
At your court hearing, the judge will make their ruling regarding your adoption. They will confirm consent to the adoption by you and the child’s biological parent (your partner) and discuss name changes. Once you have received a stamped adoption order, you may then file for a new birth certificate for the child with their adopted name.
Work With a Maryland Family Law Expert
Alan Billian is your best resource for family law in Maryland. Contact us for a free legal consultation and to learn more about how we can help you navigate the process of adopting your partner’s children today.