A good portion of children today can expect to be stepchildren by the age of 18 – as many as one-third of all children according to the Good Men Project. The stepparent adoption process in North Carolina is usually a simple process and it is relatively inexpensive.
There are many reasons why a stepparent to adopt a stepchild:
- The stepparent may want to protect the stepchild’s inheritance;
- Adoption severs the relationship between the stepchild and an abusive or non-existent biological parent;
- Stepparent adoptions transfer the emotional, financial and legal responsibility of the child from the absent parent to the stepparent;
- Adoption is a demonstration of affection and commitment to the child; and
- Adoption provides emotional security to the stepchild and the stepparent – adoption is permanent and says, “I love you and I will take care of you – you are mine!”
For a stepparent to adopt stepchildren in North Carolina, the stepparent must be married to the parent that has physical and legal custody of the child. The parties must be married for at least 6 months and they must have resided in North Carolina for at least 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the adoption petition. The child must have also lived primarily with the stepparent and the parent/spouse of the stepparent for at least 6 months preceding the filing of the adoption petition.
A home study is required in a stepparent adoption unless the parties have been married for two years or longer. It is important to remember that even if the two-year requirement is met and a home study is not necessary, the court still requires what are called post-placement visits and reports to the court. The clerk of court can waive the post-placement requirements if good cause exists.
A stepparent adoption typically takes about 3 to 6 months to complete. This time will vary depending upon the issues related to the rights of the non-spouse biological parent and general processing times based on the court.
If the non-spouse biological parent does not agree to the proposed adoption, then you will need the assistance of an experienced adoption attorney to help you to address the rights of the other biological parent.
If you’re considering a stepparent adoption in N.C., it’s important to remember that all situations are unique. At Parker Herring Law Group, PLLC, we can assist you with whatever situation you’re in, helping you understand how to adopt your stepchild. To get started with a stepparent adoption in N.C. or to ask us any questions you have, please call 919-821-1860 or contact us online.
Angel Simpson is an attorney with Parker Herring Law Group, PLLC. Angel represents adoption clients all over the state of North Carolina and has experience guiding clients through the adoption process, both locally and when crossing state lines (interstate adoptions). She represents both birth parents and adoptive parents. In addition to handling all types of adoptions, Angel assists clients with estate planning and guardianship matters. Angel is a 2013 graduate of North Carolina Central University School of Law.