Louisiana stepparents rights to adoption
The dictionary defines family as “a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not”. Nowhere in the official definition does it say the people in a family have to be related by blood, which is why we believe if stepparents want to adopt their children they should have every right to.
The steps a New Orleans stepparent has to take in order to adopt their stepchild in Louisiana can be arduous, but well worth the time if it means bringing a family closer together. A New Orleans family law attorney will be your best guide to making sure a stepparent is well informed throughout the process.
Intrafamily Adoption in Louisiana
Intrafamily adoption is a fancier way of saying someone within the existential family can adopt one of the family children. In Louisiana, this includes stepparents, grandparents, step-grandparent or any other relative to the twelfth degree. For grandparents rights on custody in Louisiana, check out our grandparent’s rights page for more information.
In this case, we’re specifically talking about stepparents rights in Louisiana. A stepparent is defined as the spouse who has married another spouse with kids from a different marriage. In a normal situation, the stepparent doesn’t have legal parental rights to their stepchildren — those still belong to the biological parents.
Therein lies the first step to stepparent adoptions. If you are legally married to the parent of the child you wish to adopt, then you’re already on the right track. Keep in mind Louisiana does not see domestic partnerships as legal grounds for adoption.
The next step would be to make sure you have been in the child’s life consistently for six months. This is referred to as physical custody, which is different than the legal custody the biological father/mother has.
Parental consent in Louisiana stepparent adoptions
From the birth of a child, both biological parents have legal parental rights in Louisiana. Those legal parental rights won’t change unless certain circumstances are met. The biggest of those circumstances: consent.
If a stepparent wants to adopt one of their stepchildren in Louisiana, getting consent from the non-custodial parent or absent parent is the easiest and least problematic path. If the petitioners, in this case the biological parent and stepparent, can get the other biological parent to waive their parental rights — then the hardest part of the process is over for you.
Once the consent to adopt has been given, it can not be taken back. Because of this, the non-custodial parent will have to attend certain counseling sessions before giving up their parental rights because it’s crucial every party involved understands what that entails. But when the biological parent won’t give up their legal parental rights, that’s when the stepparent adoption process can get uncomfortable.
Terminating parental rights in Louisiana
The process of terminating parental rights in Louisiana can be tough on all parties but necessary in certain situations. If this applies to certain New Orleans and Metairie petitioners, you will have to prove to a court the non-custodial parent is unfit to hold any parental rights. Some of the grounds a court will look for include:
- Lack of financial support
- Lack of contact
- Abuse or neglect
- Presumption the non-custodial parent is not the biological parent
If the petitioners can prove any of the above criteria, then a Louisiana court may terminate the parental rights of the non-custodial parent — opening the avenue for the stepparent to complete the adoption process. Considering this is the most difficult part of the process, it would behoove any stepparent to find a good New Orleans family law attorney to guide them through the termination process.
Can I adopt without consent in Louisiana?
Only under special circumstances can a stepparent adopt their stepchild without the consent of the non-custodial parent. If a non-custodial parent provides no support or makes any contact with a child for at least six months, that is the same as waiving parental rights in the eyes of a Louisiana court.
Just remember, a notice will be sent to the non-custodial parent regardless of the situation during stepparent adoptions. Whether or not they respond will make a difference in how difficult the adoption process will be.
Final steps to stepparent adoption in Louisiana
If the child you wish to adopt is over 12 years of age, then the state of Louisiana says a stepparent must get consent from the child as well. If the child says no, then the adoption process is killed.
A stepparent may also have to undergo a home inspection and background check before the final adoption hearing. There are many cases where a home inspection/background check can be waived in intrafamily adoptions, but don’t be surprised is a Louisiana judge orders one.
Candice Bennatt fights for Louisiana stepparents rights
New Orleans family law attorney Candice Bennatt knows a family isn’t bound to just the biological parents. It’s a broad term for any group of people who love and care for each other. Let Candice Bennatt guide you through the adoption process so your family can be whole once again. Call 504-777-3500 for a free consultation today.