What Are the Adoption Laws Relating to Stepfathers?


Quick Answer

In cases where a child's biological father is not interested in parenting or is unable to parent his child, the child's stepfather can legally adopt the child, according to Robin Elizabeth Margolis for LegalZoom.com. The child's mother must agree to the adoption.

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Full Answer

Legal adoption gives the stepfather all of the rights previously granted to the child's biological father, explains Margolis. For example, without a legal adoption, a stepfather has no legal right to make decisions on behalf of the child, such as what school he attends or what medical facility the child is admitted to if ill. With legal adoption, these rights belong to the stepfather as opposed to the biological father. Legal adoption also makes the stepfather legally responsible for the child's care.

The adoptive father may be held responsible for child support and have custody rights, though laws vary by state. Legal adoption of a stepchild also gives the child the same rights as the stepfather's biological children. For example, the stepchild is granted the same standing in regards to inheritance as the biological children, regardless or whether the stepchild is named in the will. Some states allow a stepfather to take over the rights and responsibilities of parenting his stepchild if the biological father consents and signs a power of attorney form, notes Margolis.

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