When you start dating someone with kids, you may not plan for it to head to the altar. However, at some point, it does, and you find yourself a stepparent.
Entering the lives of children who live mostly with one parent may cause stress. However, you may soon come to realize that part of that is due to the children’s need to feel wanted by the absent parent. In what situation can you go about adopting your stepchildren in South Carolina? The process may not go quickly, but it may turn out for the best.
The fight over parental rights
A child is born to two parents, whether they both stay in the picture or not. The process for adopting stepchildren starts with getting the other parent to sign off on the action. This is the best-case scenario for all.
In other situations, you may have to prove that the other parent is no longer around, and you may want a court to terminate parental rights due to abandonment. The other parent is not fit to parent for reasons that include:
- Long-term mental issues
- Documented history of abuse
- Pattern of neglect
- Alcohol or drug addiction
Once parental rights of the non-custodial parent become severed, that person is no longer responsible for child support
The adoption process
Once the first hurdle is behind you, the process for adoption may move forward. It starts with filing a petition declaring your intent. A guardian ad litem is a liaison the court appoints to check in on the children and represent their best interests through the process. If one or more of the children are over the age of 14, they must consent to the adoption. When everything falls into place, you may find yourself looking at a final adoption in weeks.
Adopting a stepchild can turn into one of the highlights of your life. For help with planning and executing the process, speak to a family law attorney.