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Can I adopt my stepchild?

If you're a stepparent hoping to adopt your stepchild, rest assured that it is indeed possible and it's relatively common in Minnesota. Legal steps must be taken, and sometimes legal hurdles must be overcome -- particularly if the biological parent does not agree with the adoption. However, a stepparent adoption is considerably less difficult than other types of adoption when all parties are in agreement that the adoption process may move forward.

Because stepparent adoption usually involves a situation where the child has already been living with the stepparent for some time, the process will generally happen faster than other forms of adoption. This is because the court will not require a "trial period" in which the potential adoptive child temporarily stays with the soon-to-be parents to ensure that it's a good match. Ultimately, the most important element in the stepparent adoption process is getting the other parent's permission.

In all cases of stepparent adoption, the birth parent must agree to the proceeding. If the other parent does not agree, then legal proceedings may be required to prove that the other parent is unfit, neglected the child, abandoned the child or failed to fulfill his or her child support obligations. Consent to allow for adoption means that the birth parent will be giving up his or her parental rights, so in some situations, that consent could be difficult to obtain.

Minnesota stepparents who want to adopt their stepchildren can benefit from speaking with a family law attorney who works with adoption cases. A lawyer can evaluate the situation and advise on the right strategies to pursue in order to make a stepparent adoption have a chance at success.

Source: FindLaw, "Stepparent Adoption FAQ," accessed Jan. 12, 2017

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