A Brief Guide to the Stepparent Adoption Process in Texas

Getting into a committed relationship with someone who has a child can inspire a mixture of different emotions. You never know what you are getting into or what you will get. Indeed, it takes a lot of heart to love a child who is not biologically yours like your own offspring, and vice versa. If everything goes well, however, the experience can be beautiful and you may want to officially adopt your stepchild and become his or her legal parent, even if you are not biologically related. With that in mind, here is a brief guide to the stepparent adoption process in Texas.

There are two ways to go about the stepparent adoption process, depending on whether the other parent (who is not in the picture) has a parent-child relationship with the child or not. These are:

1. Filing an Original Petition to Terminate Parent-Child Relationship and for Adoption, essentially designed to absorb the other parent of his or her parental rights.

2. Filing an Original Petition for Adoption if the other parent is deceased or no longer has parental rights over the child.

The state of Texas requires an order terminating the parental rights of the parent who does not have custody over the child before beginning the adoption process. The spouse of the stepparent (the other parent) applying for adoption will become a petitioner alongside his or her partner and will maintain parental rights.  The county you live in will charge a filing fee when filing for termination of parental rights or for adoption. The fee depends on your county, but you can apply for a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs if you are unable to pay the fees. Members of the military and some employees of major corporations actually can qualify for financial assistance toward the costs.

Children age 12 years or older must consent to the adoption either in court or in writing. This requirement can be dismissed if the court finds it to be in the child’s best interest. The court has to make numerous findings in an adoption case:

1. The child being adopted must be eligible for adoption by having the parental rights of the outside parent terminated

2. The requirements for adoption must be met and filed with the court. These requirements include:

  • An adoption evaluation and appointment of an amicus attorney for the child
  • A background check of the petitioners
  • A signed affidavit regarding compliance (or non-compliance) of the interstate compact on the placement of children

3. The judge must determine that the adoption is in the best interest of the child

It is generally advisable to hire a family law attorney when filing a step-parent adoption case, even if it is just to provide advice or guide you through the document preparation process. Hiring a lawyer with the background and experience in having done several adoptions can help make the process less frenetic and easier to expedite.  If you need help with seeking a combined termination and adoption or adoption (where termination is not required), the Amsberry Law Firm has you covered. Call us today at (210) 354-2244.

Written by Amsberry Law Firm

Amsberry Law Firm

Mr. Amsberry is board-certified in family and labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also active in family law, estate and elder law, and business law. He is a proven litigator who has argued before the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and earned favorable outcomes in complex, precedent-setting employment and civil rights cases. He served as a reservist assistant judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and is a sought-after lecturer and speaker on a range of legal issues.