07 Nov Stepparent Adoptions in South Carolina
In the United States, the concept of the “family” is constantly evolving to incorporate new types of families that are springing up. The “traditional” family can no longer be defined in the way it was in the last decade and now has a new meaning as more and more different types of families are forming throughout the United States. Stepfamilies are just one of the many types of families that are becoming popular, especially as more divorces are occurring and many are remarrying. Blended families have become more and more a part of the traditional family life spectrum; with an increase in the number of blended families, there come many interesting and complex legal issues. For example, with stepfamilies, how do step-parents fit into the care and responsibility of the children involved?
How To Decide What Your Role Will Be For the Children of Your Spouse
When deciding to marry your partner, if he or she has been previously married and/or has children from a previous relationship, it is important to figure out the extent of the role that you would like to have with your partner’s children. Certain questions that might determine the extent that you will be involved as a step-parent are:
- How old are the children? Are they young minors or are they almost 18 years old?
- What type of role does your spouse’s ex-partner currently have? Are they a strong influence in the children’s lives?
- If the ex-partner is avoiding his/her familial responsibility, do you (and your spouse) believe that you should step in as a parent?
Are You Obligated to Support Your Spouse’s Children?
If the children are young, and the ex-partner is not a significant presence in the life of the children, then adoption might be a route that you would consider taking. In the common law, being a stepparent does not stipulate that you are directly responsible for the health, education, and welfare of the children. However, if you hold yourself out as the parent of the child, take steps to adopt the child, and provide financially and otherwise of the child, the Court might find that you have voluntarily assumed the obligation to parent the child. This obligation as a stepparent, however, does not overrule the support that the biological parents are required to assume.
What Must Happen Before You Can Adopt
Before you can adopt the stepchildren of your spouse, the parental rights of the ex-partner of your spouse must be terminated. The ex-partner may consent to the adoption or the ex-partner’s rights must be terminated by a judgment put forth by the Court. The termination of parental rights must be for the best interest of the child and based on one of eleven grounds that must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. Some of the grounds may be due to abuse or neglect in the home, the parent has a medical or mental condition whereby they can no longer care for the child, or the parent has not fulfilled his or her obligation to care for the child. Once the ex-partner’s parental rights have been terminated, you may then be able to adopt the child.
Experienced Family Law Attorneys Can Guide You Through the Adoption Process
Serious consideration should be taken when deciding whether or not to adopt your spouse’s children. In South Carolina, there is no legal obligation to take on your spouse’s children as that obligation remains with the biological parents. However, adopting your spouse’s children may be the right choice for your family as it will make you a more cohesive unit, and you will be able to make legal and financial decisions that are right for your stepchildren and your family as a whole. If you are considering the adoption of your spouse’s children, it is important to discuss this with an experienced family law attorney at Klok Law Firm LLC. Call the office today for a confidential consultation of whether adoption is right for you and your family.