How To Get A Stepparent Adoption in Louisiana

Families are created in a variety of ways: by birth, by marriage, and by friendship. Another way of creating a family in Louisiana is through adoption. We wrote a blog on Adult Adoptions recently. The most common adoption we see here as a Slidell adoption lawyer is "intrafamily adoption". That is when a family member adopts a child already "within the family" in some form or fashion. Intrafamily adoption petitions can be filed by siblings, grandparents, parent's siblings, or stepparents.

The most common intrafamily adoptions we typically see in our Slidell family lawyer office are Stepparent Adoptions. While a piece of paper doesn't make a family when it comes from the court it does grant legal rights and obligations to the stepparent and child.

Who Can Get A Stepparent Adoption in Louisiana?

First, as silly as it sounds, the person who wants to adopt the child needs to be married to the child's parent (this can be biological or an adoptive parent). Dating partners or fiancées are not granted standing to petition the Court for an intrafamily adoption. Barring extenuating circumstances to the contrary, like if they raised the child and the biological parent passed away, they likely wouldn't be able to file for an adoption of the child otherwise.

Before you file for a stepparent adoption make sure all parties know what an adoption means. Aside from being able to share the same last name, the stepparent will also be legally responsible for the child which includes child support if you get divorced. They would also be entitled to child visitation and child custody in the event you divorce. The existing parent who is married to the stepparent must consent to the adoption and join it as a Joint Petitioner; this means the stepparent cannot ask the court for the adoption without permission of their spouse.

Depending on your child's age and understanding, you should also talk to them too. If they aren't aware of the biological parent then typically the Court will ask, if anything, if they want their last name changed. If they are old enough to remember then the Court may ask them questions but typically the Court will not ask questions or have the children sit it on the line of questioning that would be harmful to the child. So just in case that may happen, you should talk to your child if you're considering filing.

What Do I Need To File?

The easiest way to get a stepparent adoption would be if the biological parent consents to it before you have even filed your Petition (uncontested). This means that the parent who the stepparent isn't married to signs a Waiver of Parental Rights in front of a notary and two witnesses. This is sometimes called an "authentic act", "affidavit", or "consent". That parent will also waive future service of any legal proceedings so once that paper is signed and filed with the court when the Petition for Intrafamily Adoption is filed, then their part is finished.

You will need to file a Petition for Intrafamily Adoption, Affidavit of the Biological Parent (current parent married to the Petitioner), Affidavit of the Stepparent, original birth certificate of the child, original marriage certificate of the parent and stepparent, certified copy of any child custody order or child support order, and any exhibits you think the court may need to see where applicable.

Do I Have To Tell the Biological Parent?

If a biological parent does not consent to the adoption of the child by the stepparent by signing a Waiver of Parental Rights and waiving notice of the legal proceedings, then you must give notice to the biological parent. This means you must have a Sheriff serve the Petition that you filed on the parent if they live in Louisiana. If they don't then you can mail it via certified mail to them. The biological parent has the opportunity to file an Opposition with the Clerk (contested) and show up to a hearing on the matter.

Notice must be served on the biological parent through certified mail or a professional courier service. Tubbs does not work for UPS so she can't deliver it but we wanted to break up the monotony of the blog by posting her here.

What If My Ex Doesn't Agree?

You can still get a stepparent adoption if your ex does not consent if there is a court order for your ex to have communication, visitation, or pay child support and they have not done so in at least 6 months without a good reason.

Is There A Trial?

Yes but not like on "Law and Order". There is no jury and the proceedings are closed to the public. You will have an opportunity to present your case and if your ex shows up then they are allowed to present their case too. Each side can cross-examine any witness and present evidence. The Judge can also ask questions of the parents, stepparents, and the child.

Before you make any decisions make sure to talk to a licensed attorney in your state about your certain set of facts. There are always nuances in the law and this blog is not meant to be legal advice. You can schedule a consultation for a nominal fee by contacting us using this form or calling the office at 985-265-7196.

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