Dallas residents will likely recall the popular television show, The Brady Bunch. The sitcom introduced the concept of blended families into the mainstream. Today, more and more families are blending in this way, and while there are many wonderful stories of how couples make it work, there are also a number of legal issues surrounding stepparent adoption that are important to consider.
First, some good news. Some people live all of their lives knowing they want to have a big family, but a divorce after just one or two children forces a change of plans. In addition, having more babies may not be physically or financially feasible for everyone. Remarrying a partner who also has children from a prior marriage can be like a dream come true for these parents.
Of course, there are challenges to blending families, not least among them trying to adapt to each other’s parenting styles. Stress management can be a constant concern as well. And while there are some simple strategies that can help with these factors — talking frankly and openly about what’s going on, parents taking some time away from the kids when they can — it’s not uncommon for more serious family legal issues to come into play as well.
Couples who get married with children from prior marriages will likely want to formally adopt the other partner’s children. Legally speaking, some obstacles are removed in this scenario: home visits by social services, courtroom hearings and other process matters may be expedited for newly remarried parents. On the other hand, the children’s other biological parent must give consent to the adoption. This is not always an easy matter.
When a biological parent does not consent to a stepparent adoption, there are some legal measures of which Dallas parents may avail themselves. They may try to argue abandonment — i.e., that the biological parent has cut off communication and financial support. They may also try to demonstrate that the other parent is unfit, perhaps due to neglect or abuse of the children or even due to a drug or alcohol addiction.
Ultimately, for divorced parents seeking to marry and blend their families, stepparent adoption will be a significant and life-changing event. A family law professional can help them deal with any disputes that come up along the way.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Blending Our Families Is ‘Truly The Best Decision We’ve Ever Made‘,” Brittany Wong, June 27, 2014