Divorce is a process that many couples experience in West Virginia. As a result, individuals with children are either co-parenting with their ex-spouse or have taken on the full responsibilities of a single parent. When those divorced parents are ready to date again, they may one day decide that they want to get married and start a new life with another individual. The person they marry becomes their child’s new stepparent and the biological parent, in turn, becomes the stepparent of their partner’s children if he/she has any of their own. This is what is known as a blended family.
Blended families are common in West Virginia. If the blended family adjusts well to one another and finds that they accept each other as true relatives, the parents and children may consider making the family “official” in the eyes of the law.
According to West Virginia state law, adoption is “when someone other than the birth parents asks a judge to give them all the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent.” The most common form of adoption is called stepparent adoptions, where the stepparent of their stepchild and assumes all financial and legal responsibilities of that child. If a stepparent is ready to adopt their stepchild, this means that the person asks him/her for permission to adopt the birth parent’s child as their own, along with other legal requirements being met.
To do so, a stepparent must file an adoption request with a West Virginia Circuit Court. From there, the Circuit Court Judge decides whether or not to proceed with the adoption case.
It is important to note that the biological parent who claims to be the father or mother of the child will need to revoke or give up his/her parental rights in order for a stepparent adoption to take place, or in the alternative have their legal rights terminated. This is a significant event for not only the stepparent and child but for the blended family as well.
Acceptable reasons for stepparent adoptions include:
The biological parent agrees to the adoption
The biological parent gives up their parental rights
The Circuit Court Judge takes away the rights of a parent
The biological parent abandons the child
The biological parent is dead
After the correct paperwork is filed, the Circuit Judge will usually get the case placed on the docket.
Once the adoption process has successfully been completed, it’s time to celebrate! The stepparent now has a new member of the family who can assume his/her last name if need be and feel accepted as part of the family.
The family will need to apply for an amended birth certificate and documents as needed, as the parents and now-adopted child will need such paperwork in the future.
There are other terms and conditions that are specific to each case, so it is best to contact your West Virginia adoption lawyer for clarification since each case is unique. Remember, generally, consent of both biological parents is required unless a circumstance prevents the parents from not being involved, such as their parental rights being taken away, death, in the event that the mother does not know who the father is, etc.
Contact Pritt & Pritt Law to discuss your case. Our team of lawyers will fight for your rights and the rights of the child, no matter which side of the situation that you are on.