Stepparent Adoption in North Carolina
Stepparent Adoption – Who Can File a Petition to Adopt a Minor Stepchild?
North Carolina statutes specify the requirements for who may petition to adopt a stepchild in N.C.G.S. §48-4-101. The statute specifies that a stepparent must reside with the minor child for at least six months prior to the filing of a petition for adoption.
Does the Child Have a Say in the Matter?
Under §48-4-102, if the minor stepchild is under the age of twelve, the child’s consent is not required. However, if the minor child is over the age of twelve, the petition for adoption may only be granted if consent has been provided by the child.
What About the Birth Parent of the Minor Child?
This is almost always the biggest hurdle to cross in a stepchild adoption case. If the biological parent without custody of the child does not give their consent to the adoption, the only option left is to file a motion with the court to seek a termination of the biological parent’s parental rights to the minor child. In our earlier blog on Termination of Parental Rights (TPR), we discussed why these cases can be difficult to succeed on unless there is evidence of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or other extreme situations where the biological parent acted inconsistently with the behavior of a fit parent.
How Long Does the Process Take?
Generally, stepparent adoptions take between three to six months. If a stepparent has not been married to the child’s parent for two or more years, a home study may be required as a condition of the adoption process. The home study may be conducted by any licensed child placed agency.
What are the Benefits of Stepparent Adoption?
No parent-child relationship can be officially established until the adoption is completed. An adoption secures the child’s ability to inherit from their stepparent, to be insured under their stepparent, to allow the stepparent to access the child’s medical and school records, and much more outside of just the legal benefits involved.
If you are considering a stepparent adoption in North Carolina, consider setting up a consultation with a family law lawyer at Gilles Law, PLLC. You can reach us at 980-272-8438 at our office in Uptown Charlotte. We are here to assist with your inquiries.
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