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Chicago Step-Parent Adoption Attorneys

Adoption by a Stepparent in Illinois

It is a wonderful thing when a stepparent wants to become a child's legal parent. A stepparent adoption is one where the spouse of a child's parent adopts the child. Stepparent adoptions are rarely as complicated as other types of child adoption, but there are a number of steps that must be taken in order to make sure that the process is smooth.

These adoptions can go forward even without consent of both natural parents. But, in most cases, consent from both custodial parents is necessary. The experienced Illinois adoption attorneys at Nottage and Ward, LLP can help explain the process and successfully guide you through it.

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Understanding the Adoption Process in Illinois

The main step to becoming the legal parent of a child is to get consent from the birth parents. In all stepparent adoptions, you must get approval from the other birth parent unless that parent's parental rights have been terminated due to neglect, abandonment, failure to pay child support or some other reason. If the other birthparent still retains some parental rights, they will have to consent to the adoption.

Whether or not the other birth parent will approve the adoption will depend on a number of different factors. The birth parent may not wish to provide consent because they will have to give up all parental rights. However, the adoption will also remove their responsibilities, such as paying child support. There are many cases in which stepparent adoption is in the best interests of all parties involved.

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If the Other Parent Does Not Consent

If the other birth parent refuses to provide consent, you can try to remove their parental rights by proving:

  • They abandoned the child and have not communicated or provided financial support.
  • They are unfit to be a parent. In such cases, you may need a fitness hearing to prove that the birth parent is abusive, neglectful, or otherwise unfit.
  • He is not really the father. You may be able to call into question if the other parent really is your child's other parent.
  • There has been physical abuse or substantial neglect.
  • He or she has filed to protect the child from environmental conditions that are harmful.

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Filing an Adoption Petition in Illinois

The stepparent who wishes to adopt the child of their spouse must file a petition with the clerk in Cook County. You will need notarized consent from the birth parents, any prior agreements between the stepparent and birth parent and information regarding inheritance rights after the adoption.

Adopting a child is a big step. Make sure you understand your legal rights and what must be done to officially adopt the child. Stepparent adoption can be completed in as quickly as a month, but it typically takes longer. The completion of the process depends on the availability of the birth parent.

Stepparent adoption is a critical legal procedure that helps loving families grow stronger and bond together. Our Chicago family law attorneys can help you navigate the process successfully. Call Nottage and Ward, LLP at (312) 332-2915 for more information.

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