In today’s world of blended families, adoption of a child by a step-parent in Massachusetts has become common as parents strive to form cohesive and stable family units.
Under Massachusetts law a step-parent may file a petition to adopt a minor child who is the child of the step-parent’s spouse if the parent who is the spouse has legal and physical custody of the child, and the child has resided primarily with this parent and the step-parent during the six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition.
In order for the adoption to proceed, the parental rights of the non-custodial parent must be surrendered.
The effect of a legal adoption by a step-parent is to terminate the child’s relationship to the biological or natural parent whose role the step-parent is assuming.
As such, any existing agreement or court order establishing custody or parenting time with the child and the biological parent would be rescinded.
Once the adoption between the step-parent and child is final, the child loses the right through intestacy to inherit under the will of the biological parent whose parental rights are terminated.
However, the adopted child would be entitled to inherit through intestacy under the will of the step-parent who adopted the child. A step-parent who adopts a minor child becomes a legal and physical guardian of that child and assumes responsibility for the child’s care and support.
A biological parent whose parental rights are terminated may still be liable for any child support obligation that accrues up to the date of the adoption.
Overall, the step-parent adoption process is much simpler than that of a standard adoption. Home studies and involvement by child protective services are not required. After completing the adoption, the absent parent’s name is replaced by the step-parent’s on a new birth certificate.
There are certain legal consequences of step-parent adoption that should be considered. For example, if the step-parent and parent divorce, the step-parent may be ordered to pay child support.
If you have interest in finding out more about step-parent adoption or beginning the adoption process, please contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar either through email or telephone 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation to discuss your particular situation.