When West Virginia families blend, it is possible that a child may develop a strong relationship with his or her stepparent. This bond can be frustrating because a stepparent typically has no legal rights concerning the children of his or her spouse. While the adoption of a stepchild can be a wonderful option in some cases where the stepparent has already taken on the role of a parent, it involves some difficult elements of family law.
The most difficult roadblock to overcome when beginning the process of adopting a stepchild is to gain consent from the noncustodial biological parent. If the parent formally agrees, the adoption may proceed; however, if the parent refuses to give consent and relinquish his or her parental rights, the chances of adopting the stepchild decrease. There are certain circumstances in which the court may bypass the consent requirement, such as when the other parent does not consistently communicate with the child.
Once a stepparent has obtained consent from the noncustodial parent, he or she can complete and file the appropriate forms with the proper court. Having an attorney to assist with this stage will prove advantageous. A home visit may be required, especially if the biological parent did not grant consent willingly. In most stepparent adoption cases, however, this requirement is waived.
The court will give the stepparent an appointment for a hearing during which a judge will ask questions and learn more about the family situation. Many West Virginia stepparents find it helpful to have their family law attorneys prepare them for this hearing so they will know what to expect. At the end of the hearing, if the judge is satisfied with the proceedings, a date will be set for finalizing the adoption.
Source: parents.com, “Stepparent Adoption“, Accessed on Dec. 9, 2017