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Commonly Asked Questions About Stepparent Adoption

 Posted on April 18, 2019 in Family Law

adoption, Rolling Meadows family law attorneyWhen people think about adoption, often the first thing that comes to mind is a couple or single person adopting a new child into their family. However, this is far from the only situation in which legal adoption is useful. When a single parent with a child gets married, their spouse become the child’s stepparent. Many stepparents are just as involved in their stepchild’s life as a biological parent would be. In these situations, the stepparent may wish to adopt the child so that they become the child’s legal parent as well.

When Can a Stepparent Legally Adopt Their Stepchild in Illinois?

Stepparent adoption is only possible if certain conditions are met. Firstly, stepparents who want to adopt their stepchild must be legally married to the child’s custodial parent. Even if a life partner or long-term boyfriend or girlfriend has been acting as a parental figure in a child’s life for years, he or she must be married to the child’s parent in order to adopt him or her through a stepparent adoption. Secondly, the stepparent must have the stepchild’s consent to adopt him or her if he or she is over age 14. Lastly, because Illinois law only allows a child to have two legal guardians or parents, the child’s other parent must be deceased or terminate his or her parental rights for stepparent adoption to be possible.

Some parents will voluntarily terminate their parental rights in order to allow for stepparent adoption. If the child’s other parent does not consent to the adoption, however, it can only proceed if that parent is deemed to be unfit.

What Are the Grounds for Parental Unfitness?

A parent is considered “unfit” when he or she does not have the child’s best interests at heart. More specifically, Illinois law provides that a parent may be deemed to be unfit if he or she:

  • Abandons the child;
  • Physically abuses or neglects the child;
  • Deserts the child for three months or more before the adoption;
  • Does not show interest in a newborn child within the first 30 days after the child’s birth;
  • Consistently fails to show responsibility for the child’s well-being; or
  • Does not pay court-ordered child support or other financial support, despite having the financial ability to do so.

When a child’s parent is proven to be unfit, he or she may lose his or her parental rights. Once the other parent’s parental rights are terminated, stepparent adoption is possible.

Contact an Arlington Heights Family Law Attorney

To learn more about stepparent adoption in Illinois, contact a Rolling Meadows stepparent adoption lawyer. Call the Law Offices of Donald J. Cosley at 847-253-3100 today for a free consultation.



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