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Step Parent Adoption
In Georgia, there is a process by which the spouse of a child’s biological parent may adopt that child under certain circumstances. This process is generally referred to as stepparent adoption.
Specifically, there are two different circumstances under which a child may be adopted by his or her stepparent, and the process that the adopting parent must undergo differs according to these circumstances. The first set of circumstances involves the adoption of a child by the spouse of one of the child’s biological parents where the other biological parent is no longer living. If the child’s other biological parent is no longer living, the child may be adopted by the spouse of his or her living parent only if that parent consents in writing to the adoption. O.C.G.A. §19-8-6(a)(2). For example, if the stepfather wishes to adopt his stepchild, and the child’s biological father is no longer living, the stepfather may adopt the child if the mother (the stepfather’s wife) gives consent.
Alternatively, in cases where both of the child’s biological parents are still living, the requirements for stepparent adoption are different. If both of the child’s biological parents are still living, but they are not married to each other, the child may be adopted by his or her stepparent only if the other parent voluntarily surrenders his or her parental rights in writing, and the other parent consents in writing to the adoption. O.C.G.A. §19-8-6(a)(1). An example of this situation would be as follows:
If a stepmother wishes to adopt her stepchild, and the child’s biological mother is still living, the biological mother must voluntarily surrender her parental rights in writing, and the child’s father (the stepmother’s husband) must give consent. If the biological parent refuses to surrender his or her parental rights, the court presiding over the matter will hold a hearing to determine whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child.
One additional requirement that applies to either situation is that if the child involved is fourteen years old or over, that child must also consent to the adoption in writing. O.C.G.A. § 19-8-6(b). If you are a stepparent and you wish to adopt your stepchild, it will be necessary for you to file a Petition for Stepparent Adoption in order to begin the process. Unlike adoption in other situations, only the stepparent seeking to adopt his or her stepchild must file a petition for adoption. O.C.G.A. 19-8-3(c).To learn the requirements that must be met regarding adoption generally, see our article entitled “Georgia Adoption: Generally.”