Stepparent Adoption in Mississippi
Adoption may be the most wonderful gift you could give to your stepchild, fortifying a strong and permanent parent-child bond. Before rushing into the stepparent adoption process, there are many factors to consider. Adoption is a lifelong commitment with very real consequences. Before you make an adoption official, make sure you understand the emotional, legal, and financial significance of this loving gesture.
You already love your stepchild and treat him as your own, but making an adoption official has many positive implications for your stepchild’s emotional well-being. A meaningful parent-child relationship with your stepchild brings security, stability, and a sense of family belonging. This is especially true for a child that does not have a strong relationship with both of his biological parents.
Legal and Financial Ramifications of Stepparent Adoption
Stepparents do not enjoy the same legal rights and responsibilities as biological or other legally recognized parents. Adoption makes you legally and financially responsible for the child, even if you do not stay married to the child’s other parent. Your stepchild will be able to change his/her name if desired, and the birth certificate can be amended to reflect two legal parents. Adopting your stepchild gives you the legal authority to make decisions in the child’s life, about medical care, education, and other big decisions. You will also be able to seek custody or visitation rights if you and your spouse ever divorce.
You will also be able to give your stepchild access to financial benefits, including health insurance, survivor benefits, and inheritance. There may be negative financial consequences as well. If your spouse is receiving child support, these payments will cease once the biological parent consents to the termination of parental rights, or when the biological parent’s parental rights or terminated, should they refuse to consent. If you and your spouse separate or divorce, you will still be expected to financially support the child and may end up on the hook for child support.
Is Stepparent Adoption Right for Me?
There are many emotional, legal, and financial benefits to adopting your spouse’s child. Still, it is not always the best decision for every family. Despite good intentions, some people pursue adoption for the wrong reasons, such as an attempt to mend a struggling relationship with their spouse or stepchildren. If your family is dealing with conflict or other issues, pushing forward with an adoption at this time may be too much pressure. Attending counseling as a family may help you work through any unresolved tensions in your home life before making any permanent decisions.
Finally, to adopt a stepchild, the child’s biological parent must either consent to the adoption or have his parental rights terminated by a judge. An adoption is considered “uncontested” if the biological parent agrees to the adoption, is completely unknown or deceased, or has already had his rights terminated by a court. However, if the child’s biological parent contests the adoption, the adoption process becomes much more difficult. Mississippi family courts take the termination of parental rights very seriously, and will be unlikely to terminate the rights of an active, invested biological parent.
Are You Ready to Adopt Your Stepchild? Call a Mississippi Adoption Lawyer
If you have questions about stepparent adoption in Mississippi, or if you and your family are ready to move forward with the adoption process, Derek L. Hall, PC, The Heavy Hitter can help. Our passionate and experienced attorneys are eager to assist you. Contact our office in Jackson, Mississippi at (601) 202-2222.