The most common form of adoption is adopting a stepchild. By adopting a stepchild, the stepparent is agreeing to be fully responsible for their spouse’s child. The biological parent not living with the child no longer has any rights or responsibilities for the child, including child support.
Stepparents can become legal parents to their stepchildren through the process of stepparent adoption. Both biological parents, if living, must consent or agree to the adoption. When a stepparent adopts a stepchild, either the non-custodial parent of the child willingly gives up his or her parental rights to the child, or the court terminates the parental rights of the biological parent if there is evidence of abuse or neglect to the child. If a parent is not involved in the child's life, the court can terminate that biological parent's rights on the grounds of abandonment. Grounds for abandonment in most states is no contact between the parent and child for at least one year.
It is important to check with local laws when looking to complete a stepparent adoption. While having the non-custodial parent consent to the adoption is the easiest way to complete a stepparent adoption, it is still possible to have one completed when they either do not consent, or cannot be located.
A stepparent adoption can still occur if the other birth parent refuses to give consent or cannot be located. Most states' laws allow parental rights to be terminated when a parent has willfully failed to pay child support or communicate with the child for a period of time, usually a year.
Stepparent adoption also can occur if the other biological parent is deceased.
Address of the bookmark: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stepfamily