Being a stepparent is rewarding. If you feel a true connection with your stepchild, you may want to go through the formal adoption process. Forming a legal family by adopting a stepchild brings many benefits. Your child receives an inheritance when you pass away. Your child receives a new birth certificate with your name and will feel more included in the extended family. You can make health care decisions for your child.
However, stepparent adoption requires legal proceedings and can involve potential complications. Here is a basic guide to stepparent adoption in Wisconsin.
1. Get consent from the non-custodial parent
You cannot adopt a stepchild until the non-custodial biological parent provides consent. This step requires a judge to terminate the parental rights of the non-custodial birth parent. If the parent does not willingly choose to relinquish these rights, you may be faced with a contested adoption. However, the judge may terminate parental rights if there is evidence of neglect or abuse.
2. Petition the court
Next, you will need to file a petition to adopt the stepchild. This simply states your intention to become the legal parent of the child. The petition includes a request for an investigation and background check.
3. Undergo an investigation
You should be ready for the court to approve the investigation. This process usually involves a home inspection to ensure it is safe and compliant with building codes. There may also be background checks and reference contacts. In order to help the process go as smoothly as possible, submit all the required documents promptly.
4. Attend the court hearing
The last step of adopting a stepchild is the court hearing. This is simply another opportunity for the judge to ask all interested parties about the adoption and ensure everything is going according to the letter of the law.
With patience and the right guidance, you may be able to form a more cohesive family unit.