In today’s society, divorce is no longer the controversial process that it used to be. Parents divorce and remarry with relative ease, transitioning children from one set of parents to two or even three. While remarriage may introduce new family relationships to a child, and it may create a loving support system that involves multiple adults and caretakers, it does not always ensure that new stepparents have the same rights and status that biological parents do. Instead, to formalize custody and legal parental rights, stepparents must go through the process of adopting their stepchildren. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, Milwaukee adoption lawyer Terese J. Singer has extensive experience in family law courts. She can assist you and your loved ones if you need a family law attorney to guide you through the stepparent adoption process.Pursuing an Adoption as a Stepparent
Adoption in Wisconsin can be a lengthy and complicated process. While frustrating at times, the intent is to protect the well-being of the child and the rights of the biological parents. These are two things that Wisconsin law takes very seriously. Adopting as a stepparent involves four steps:
- The termination of the parental rights of the biological parent;
- A petition to adopt and an order of investigation;
- An investigation; and
- A hearing to approve or deny the adoption.
A commonly misunderstood aspect of stepparent adoption is that one parent usually cannot adopt a child without another parent relinquishing his or her rights to the child. This is because a child may not have numerous formal legal parents. In order to terminate an existing parent’s parental rights, a petition is filed in court, which is followed by a hearing. If the court agrees that the parent’s rights should be terminated, it will issue an order to this effect. At that point, the parent no longer has any legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the child.
At the same time that a stepparent petitions for the termination of parental rights, he or she must also file a petition to adopt the child. This is the formal paperwork that begins the process of adoption. At the time of this filing, the court will schedule a formal adoption hearing within 90 days. It will also order an investigation into whether the child may be properly adopted and whether the stepparent’s home is a suitable place for the child. A licensed adoption agency or the Department of Human Services will conduct the investigation. When evaluating a petition for a stepparent to adopt, the investigation must involve an interview of the stepparent. It may also involve an investigation into the household and a background check of the individuals involved.Adoption Hearing
Once the investigation report is completed, the court will hold a hearing on whether to approve the petition for adoption. The court must determine that the adoption will be in the best interest of the child, and, in the case of children 14 and older, the child must attend the adoption hearing to provide his or her input on the adoption. Assuming that the court determines that the adoption will be good for the child, the court will then approve the order of adoption.Seek Guidance from an Adoption Lawyer in Milwaukee
While many adoptions are supported by all the members of a child’s family, some adoptions and petitions for the termination of a parent’s rights can be contested. In these circumstances, it is important to seek the advice and assistance of an experienced child custody attorney who can help explain to the court why your adoption of your stepchild is in the child’s best interests. Milwaukee adoption attorney Terese J. Singer has helped many new parents successfully complete the adoption of a stepchild. She also can assist people in Port Washington, Mequon, Racine, West Bend, Waukesha, and other communities throughout Milwaukee, Washington, Racine, Ozaukee, and Waukesha Counties. Call (414) 271-6400 or contact us online for a free consultation.