The family dynamic in America is constantly evolving and changing, and with that the courts are seeing more requests for stepparent adoption. Along with these requests is the question of how much control a biological parent has over the adoption of their child by a stepparent. In Kansas, the court will allow the stepparent of a child to adopt under certain circumstances.
Biological Parental Consent
An adoption can usually only occur with the consent of the biological parents. Oftentimes the simplest approach to a stepparent adoption is if, for example, the biological mother consents to her new spouse adopting her child, and if the biological father of the child also consents. This consent is necessary and applicable if the child is either the legitimate or the presumed father of the child. To be considered a presumed father in Kansas, you must fall under certain criteria pertaining to your relationship with the mother and when the child was conceived.
A legitimate or presumed father does not always have the right to object nor is he required to consent if he has not maintained a consistent relationship with the child. If the father has failed or refuses to assume his required duties as a father for two consecutive years prior to the filing, the court will not require his consent for a stepparent adoption. If a father is aware of his child’s birth and fails or refuses to pay support or contribute to the child’s well-being, this also gives rise to the conclusion he has failed in his duties as a parent. This lack of involvement or relationship may show the court that he has not fulfilled his duties as a father and therefore should not have the right to object as a father.
If the Father’s Whereabouts Are Unknown
If the father of the child is not able to be located, the court may appoint an attorney to represent the father and his rights. In some circumstances if the father’s whereabouts are unknown, the court may also require that a Notice of Hearing be published in order to notify the father of the court date and adoption hearing. This helps ensure due diligence in trying to locate or notify the father was conducted in order to protect his rights and ability to object if he desires. The requirements of publishing a notice are set by the court and subject to each county’s rules and laws.
Best Interest of the Child
As with most cases or matters involving a minor child, the court’s goal is to protect and maintain the best interest of the child. This is true for stepparent adoptions as well and will be the focus of such an adoption proceeding. After a fully assessing the totality of the parents’ consent, the relationship of the child and the stepparent, the relationship of the parent and the stepparent and any further or necessary testimony, the judge will make a decision based on his or her discretion. If the minor is old enough, their opinion regarding their adoption by their stepparent may be weighed into the court’s evaluation as well when determining whether or not to grant or deny the adoption.
If you are a parent or stepparent and you have questions regarding the Stepparent Adoption process, our team of Kansas Adoption Lawyers is experienced and here to help. Our attorneys have extensive knowledge in the area of adoption and family law and we have assisted many families through the process with the child’s best interest in mind. We will give you confidence during the process that your matter will be handled in the best way possible. Call a Kansas Adoption Lawyer at McDowell Chartered Legal Services today (316) 633-4322 to see how we can successfully assist you with your adoption matter.