Step parent adoption can it be terminated?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I adopted my step son and now my wife and I are getting a divorce. She has not let me see my son in two years. I am wondering if I have the legal right to terminate the step parent adoption?”

Adopting a step child

When you adopted your step son you had to complete a process similar to other types of adoptions. First, you had to terminate- either voluntarily or involuntarily- the rights of the birth parent. Next, you had to complete certain adoption steps required by your state. Although these steps can vary, they will generally include filing a petition in court, completing a social study and convincing the court that you adopting the child is in the best interest of the child.

Step parent adoptions are generally permanent

Now, it’s important to understand certain issues prior to a step parent adoption. First, you are making a commitment to the child, not the mother. In fact, courts are unlikely to grant a termination of your parental rights simply because you decide to divorce the mother.

Furthermore, courts try very hard not to terminate any parental rights because they understand that rearing children within a two-parent household is generally better for the child. With this in mind, judges generally will not terminate a step parent’s parental rights unless there is another person to step in and fill the role. They definitely will not consider terminating the rights of a step parent simply so that parent can avoid paying child support.

So what’s your best option for having your step parent rights terminated? Getting your ex-wife to remarry and hope that man is willing adopt your kids. If the courts believed there was another responsible party who was willing to support your children they might consider terminating your parental rights, especially if all parties were in agreement that this was in the best interest of the children.

Involuntary termination of parental rights

Now, that’s not to say that the state never takes matters into their own hands to have the rights of parents terminated, although this generally occurs in juvenile cases where the state determines there are serious abuse or neglect issues and the parent is unable to safely care for the child.

If this type of case is filed against you, however, paying child support is less of a concern. In fact, you might be facing criminal charges.

Mom won’t let me see my child

Without knowing all the details of the case it’s hard to know all of your options, but one option might be to attempt to reestablish a relationship with the child. If you are the legal parent of the child you likely have the legal right to see them. If the mother is not abiding by the custodial arrangement you have the right to take her to court and enforce the agreement.

Consider what’s in the best interest of the child. Most children benefit greatly from having a father who is engaged, supportive, and interested in them. Maybe it is time to reach out and connect with your child rather than trying to terminate the relationship.

Bottom Line:

If a step parent has adopted a child the court views that relationship as permanent. This is not to say that this relationship cannot be terminated under very specific conditions, but not seeing the child or not wanting to pay child support is not one of them.

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