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Helping Step-Parents to Adopt


The merging of two families is not as simple as filing paperwork. If a step-parent wishes to achieve legal adoption of their step-child, they must complete a very specific process. Hiring experienced legal representation can ensure that your adoption is completed properly and will be legally binding. Step-parent adoption attorney Bruce C. Zivley in Houston, TX, is prepared to help step-parents adopt. His work in family law has helped thousands of Texans over the last 30 years. Reach out to us online or call us at (281) 506-0047 to book an appointment.*

When is a Step-Parent Eligible to Adopt a Spouse's Child?

In the state of Texas, a step-parent may only adopt their step-child if several conditions are met, including: 

  • He or she is legally married to the child's parent 
  • There is a case of absentee parent, deceased parent, unknown parent, or indifferent parent 
  • The absent or consenting parent's parental rights have been terminated
  • The individual who has had actual care, possession, and control of the child for the last six months or more consents to adoption

Additionally, if the child is over 12 years old, he or she must provide written consent.

step-parent adoption
Mr. Zivley is prepared to help step-parents adopt.

Initiating the Adoption Process

Typically, the entire step-parent adoption process takes about four to six months. Even when it is uncontested, it requires taking several steps:

Filing of the Petition

To begin the process, the step-parent must file a petition with the court requesting to adopt the child. The petition must be filed in the juvenile court of the county where the child resides. The spouse must also file a joint petition to signify consent. Mr. Zivley can assist you in properly filing the paperwork to ensure that the proceedings move at the most efficient pace possible.*

Termination of Parental Rights

If they are living and known, the non-custodial parent must first sign an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights. Once they have signed, they will not have the right to visitation or custody of the child or have input in choices made regarding the child's education, religion, and other matters. They will also no longer be responsible for past or future child support.

The results found by the amicus attorney will be provided to the court along with the social study to draw their final conclusion. 

If the non-custodial parent refuses to relinquish his or her rights, the case may be taken to court to determine whether the rights can be terminated regardless of consent. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, it is nearly impossible for the adoption to take place if he or she does not willingly relinquish these rights. However, if it can be proven that it is in the best interest of the child, an involuntary termination may be granted. This may be the case in instances of abuse, child abuse, long-term incarceration, or other grounds. 

Required Evaluations

Two evaluations of the family must be completed to ensure the final decision is in the best interest of the child. This portion of the process generally takes about two to three months to complete:

Social Study

The social study generally includes:

  • Completion of a background check
  • Interview of adults and children living in the home
  • Observation of the living environment 
  • Evaluation of the relationship between the step-parent and step-child
  • Review of employment and financial records

Amicus Attorney

As an unbiased third party, an amicus attorney is appointed by the court to verify the information gathered during the social study. While many of the same details will be evaluated, this study will go into deeper detail. The results found by the amicus attorney will be provided to the court along with the social study to draw their final conclusion about the adoption. 

The Hearing 

During the hearing, the court will review documentation and the findings of the social study and amicus attorney. Once the court has determined that all requirements have been met, they will move forward with the adoption process. The child will be provided with a new birth certificate, listing the biological parent and the adoptive parent as the legal parents. Once the adoption has been finalized, it cannot be reversed, even after a divorce. 

Schedule a Consultation 

Mr. Zivley can provide guidance and necessary representation to ensure that you and your family take the right steps throughout the process of step-parent adoption, and that the best interests of the child are upheld. Contact us online or call us at (281) 506-0047 to schedule a consultation. *

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"Bruce handled my divorce. He was efficient and effective, always responsive and accessible. He provided great advice and kept the discussion fact-based and objective when I was occasionally tempted to focus on emotional aspects of the situation.*"

Holly B.

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Houston, TX 77046

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