On behalf of The Law Offices of Mary Ann Beaty, PC posted in Family Law on Tuesday, February 7, 2017.

Legal knowledge and assistance does not end with a divorce. You are likely to remarry and blend families. After much thought and consideration with your new spouse, you may desire to adopt his or her children. However, even if your stepchildren desire the same, there are legal requirements in Texas you must meet first to be able to adopt them. Knowing what they are can save you time and money, and make the process go more smoothly.

Terminating parental rights

Before you can proceed with an adoption, the noncustodial biological parent must agree to terminate all parental rights. This includes visitation and child support. You do not need the parent’s consent if you do not know his or her whereabouts or identity, or if the children are legal adults.

If the parent agrees, all you need is a signature relinquishing rights. If the parent does not consent or does not reply to your notification, you will have to go to court, where a judge will decide what is in the best interest of the children. Depending on the ages of the children, their opinions may carry some weight. Furthermore, you may prove any of the following to help your case:

  • The parent does not have nor intends to have a relationship with the children.
  • The parent is abusive and/or neglectful.
  • The parent is in prison.
  • The parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Once the parent or court terminates all rights, you may go ahead with the adoption process.

Benefits of adoption

Adoption comes with more benefits than simply establishing guardianship. In addition, your adopted stepchildren will be able to change their last name to yours if they wish. They also will receive new birth certificates with your name on it.

Most importantly, they will receive the same rights as your natural children. They will have the same legal claim to inheritances, insurance policies and other financial benefits. They will have protection that not even divorcing their biological parent can take away. (It is important to know that because you are now a legal parent, you would have to pay child support if you did divorce.)

How a family law attorney can help

Texas does not take children’s interests lightly. You must clearly show how adopting your stepchildren would be best for them. Mistakes can cause delays, unnecessary fees, stressful court sessions and even the opposite outcome of what you want. Therefore, it is smart to acquire the assistance of an experienced Texas family law attorney to guide you through the termination and adoption process.