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A common call for us to receive is from someone who has custody of a child and is married to someone who is not the parent of the child by blood, but is a parent in the fact that they love them, take care of them, provide for them, etc. So the birth parent wants their spouse to adopt their child. The question is, how do you make that happen?

For purposes of this post, let’s assume that it’s a woman who called me and is the mother of the child, wanting her husband to adopt the child. To make that happen, she will first have to terminate the rights of the birth father.

Terminating the parental rights of someone is not taken lightly by the courts because once it happens, it’s not reversible. So even if the Dad has been an absent parent, they will be given the opportunity to come to court and state why their rights shouldn’t be terminated. Of course, if they are agreeable then it’s a slam dunk, but in most cases the Judge will give them the wake up call that they need or in others people come to their senses when they realize the finality of losing their rights.

To get a termination order approved when it’s contested, you need to show how little the other parent has been involved in the child’s life and also that it’s in the best interests of the child for this to happen. Sometimes the other parent isn’t involved, but there family is so everything will be looked at.

Once you get that order approved, it’s final. At that point you can go about petitioning for your new spouse to adopt your child. That is usually a smooth, easy process because nobody can contest it and everyone involved is on the same side. And of course it’s a smart thing to do because if you were to die and your spouse hadn’t adopted your child(ren), then they may have no rights to them after you pass away.

Written by Michael Helfand