Getting married to a person who has a child from a previous relationship can bring about the need for the stepparent to adopt the child. Legally, this could be a challenging process, and legal counsel with experience in dealing with Mississippi’s stepparent adoption laws might be required. It is a way for the stepparent to declare that he or she will assume full legal and financial responsibility of the stepchild, after the parental rights of the noncustodial, biological parent are formally relieved. This includes child support.
The court may have a streamlined process for stepparent adoptions, by which the judge can hear the petition without requiring a home study, such as needed for other adoptions. The court might not allow such a request to be filed before the couple’s first anniversary of their wedding. Legal counsel can explain the requirements for filing a petition for stepparent adoption.
The consent of both the biological parents of the child is required for the adoption petition to be filed and heard. If the noncustodial parent refuses to relinquish his or her parental rights, the court typically will not allow the adoption process to proceed. However, if the court determines that the adoption would be in the child’s best interest, it might let the adoption take place.
The support and guidance of a family law attorney in these circumstances can be invaluable. The lawyer can explain the Mississippi adoption laws and assist with preparing and submitting the necessary legal paperwork. Once the hearing date is secured, legal counsel can assist throughout the hearing and related legal proceedings. When the adoption is finalized, the stepparent can apply for an amended birth certificate for the adopted child.