When you become a stepparent, you may wish to take on the full responsibilities of a parent to your stepchild by adopting them. In North Carolina, stepparents can adopt non-biological children, but the process varies depending on your situation.
The Requirements for Stepparent Adoption
To be able to adopt a stepchild in North Carolina, you must meet certain requirements. These include:
- You are married to one of the child's biological parents.
- You have lived in North Carolina for at least six months before filing for stepparent adoption.
- You have your stepchild's consent to adopt if they are 12 years of age or older.
- You live with your spouse and stepchild.
Additionally, you must do a home study if you've only been with a family for a short period.
Obtaining Consent of the Biological Parent
By law, children in North Carolina can only have two parents. If your stepchild's other biological parent is still alive, they must consent to the adoption or have their parental rights taken away by the court. If the biological parent consents, the case is straightforward.
If the biological parent does not consent to your adopting their child, then you'll have to demonstrate that the parent shouldn't have parental rights—which is not easy to prove. You must be able to show the court that the adoption of your stepchild is in the child's best interest. Typically, you can only do so in cases of severe abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
How to File for Stepparent Adoption
To start the adoption process, you must file a petition. You also need a consent form from your spouse, the child's biological parent. If the child is over 12, they must also fill out a consent form. If the other biological parent has agreed to the adoption, you need a consent form from them too. When everyone involved agrees, the process is as simple as filing paperwork and waiting out the 90-day waiting period.
However, the other biological parent may not agree to the adoption and you may have to go to court.
An Experienced Attorney for Stepparent Adoption
If you want to adopt your stepchild and have questions about the process or feel you may need to go to court, our skilled family law attorneys can help. Call Jerkins Family Law at 919-719-2785 or contact us online.