the players and the process
Establishing Parental and Custody Rights Before a stepparent can adopt his or her spouse’s child, he or she must show that their spouse is the legal parent, and has legal custody, of the child. If you don’t think you can clearly show your spouse’s legal parentage or legal right to have custody of your stepchild, help from a lawyer may be in order.
1. If You Are the Stepfather Who Wants to Adopt
Parentage. Your wife will probably have no difficulty in establishing herself as the legal parent (even if her child was born out of wedlock), as long as there is a recorded birth certificate naming her the mother. If she is the adoptive mother, again there is probably no problem (unless her legal parentage was terminated through court action).
Custody. Being a legal parent is not necessarily proof that one has a legal right to custody of the child. A mother living with her child probably has legal custody if:
2. If You Are the Stepmother Who Wants to Adopt Paternity. Your spouse will probably not have difficulty in showing himself to be the legal father of his child if the child was born in wedlock and there is a recorded birth certificate naming him as the father. If he is the adoptive father, again he shouldn’t have trouble proving his status (unless his legal parentage was terminated through court action).
A man whose child was born out of wedlock, and who has no court order declaring him to be the father, may have some problems in proving his legal status as father. He will be presumed to be the father, and any problems proving his legal status as father should be surmountable if:
Custody. Assuming your spouse is the legal parent of his child as outlined above, and he is living with his child, he probably has legal custody if: