STEP PARENT ADOPTIONS
Step Parent Adoptions
Nothing can be more rewarding than building a family together. Over time, your spouse’s children have become your own. You have the bond of a parent, and you want to have the legal rights of a parent. The natural parent is no longer around, or it is not in the child’s interest to be around that parent. For whatever reason, that relationship has simply not been beneficial to the child. Your are willing and eager to take on the responsibilities of being a parent and giving your child everything he or she deserves. The ability to make educational and medical decisions to inheritance rights, you are legally cementing what already exists: you have become family.
The Step Parent adoption process can be extremely simple or extremely complicated, and whether it is simple or complicated can be determined by the natural parent. In a case where the natural parent signs papers, an uncontested adoption can be had, and it is typically both fast and simple. If the natural parent is unknown, there are hoops, but the process is still relatively simple. If the natural parent is known and refuses to cooperate, there is a longer process we must look at. Let us examine these three options, starting with the easiest:
An uncontested Step Parent adoption where the natural parent signs paperwork is one of the most straight forward and easy adoptions to perform. It is a flat rate of $1,200.00 plus the costs (filing fees/court costs). (More details would be explained in a legal services agreement.) This process typically takes about two months from beginning to end, presuming everyone signs timely.
Step Parent adoptions with an unknown parent are a little more complicated, and publication is required. If there are any known potential fathers, they must be notified (with certain exceptions that can be addressed with a Judge in sexual assault cases). This process takes longer, but the fees are still lower for this type of adoption than many other types. There is a retaining fee of $2,500.00, and the firm bills hourly against that at our hourly rates of $250.00-395.00 an hour, depending on the experience of the attorney. (More details would be explained in a legal services agreement.)
Finally, a Step Parent adoption with a party who is unwilling to sign is much more complicated. In order to force a termination of rights, there must be significant lack of involvement of the biological parent. Georgia law requires a minimum of one year with no contact or attempted contact with the minor child, as well as one year without support as a general rule. There are other circumstances that can come into play, such as when a biological parent is in prison or the step-parent’s involvement is needed for the benefit of the minor child, but without a significant reason and/or significant lack of involvement, a Judge is unlikely to terminate the rights of a parent, as such termination is permanent. In the event that you find yourself in this situation, we would invite you to come in to discuss the specific facts of your case and what legal options might exist. Retaining fees for a contested Step-Parent adoption start at $5,000.00, and we bill hourly against this at the $250.00-395.00 rate depending on the experience of the attorney. (More details would be explained in a legal services agreement.)
To discuss a Step Parent adoption with one of our attorneys, we invite you to call 770-863-8355 to set up a free consultation with one of our adoption law attorneys.