Marrying a person with children in Massachusetts creates a stepparent relationship that, over time, seems no different than a biological relationship. When both biological parents are alive and taking an active role in the upbringing of their children, Massachusetts law prevents stepparents from adopting the children.
However, when adoption is permitted by law, families become even stronger after an adoption process that also helps prevent some significant legal issues down the road.
The Rewards of Stepparent Adoption Outweigh Any Legal Complexities
Any adoption involves a seemingly complex legal process that goes beyond just filling out the appropriate legal forms. The prospective adoptive parent must meet a number of requirements, undergo assessments and even obtain consent from children over age 14.
Regardless of how long the adoption process takes, the rewards of a true parent-child connection last much longer. Additionally, stepparents can avoid the following five vital legal surprises by formalizing this important relationship:
- Loss of parental rights: If the remaining biological parent passes away or even in the event of divorce both the stepparent and children can sustain severe emotional damage if other family members initiate custody suits.
- Preservation of inheritance rights: Adopted children have the same inheritance succession rights as biological children, which places them below only a spouse in terms of inheritance. Stepchildren, on the other hand, can potentially lose their inheritance if other children or relatives choose to contest the will.
- Severing inappropriate biological ties: Children of divorce generally benefit when both biological parents maintain close ties. However, sometimes a biological parent is deemed to be dangerous to the children, or that parent is not interested in fulfilling a parental role. These children typically benefit from a legal relationship with a committed stepparent.
- Equalizing the status with other children: Right or wrong, other children in a family may view stepchildren as lacking equal status. Adoption equalizes the status and may even improve the relationship between all children.
- Demonstration of commitment and permanence: No matter how much devotion a stepparent shows to a child, it does not replace the bond between legal parent and child.
Skilled Legal Support Can Keep the Adoption Process Under Control
At first glance, the stepparent adoption process may seem unduly complex, requiring numerous individuals to sign off and involving state agencies to assess seemingly every detail of the applicant's background and home environment. However, a skilled adoption attorney can help get most requirements waived for stepparents.
Attorney Renee Lazar can help reduce the effort that stepparents face by guiding them through every step in the process.
Call us at 978-844-4095 or use our convenient contact form to formalize a bond that brings exceptional rewards.