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What benefits come from adopting your stepchild?

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2021 | Family Law

Various circumstances may result in a biological parent raising a child on their own. A father might have never established their paternity, leaving a biological mother to raise a child alone. A parent’s legal problems or passing may also have resulted in one of the biological parents not being in the picture. 

The situations mentioned above are just some of the many instances in which a stepparent may want to adopt their spouse’s children. Stepparents and stepchildren alike may benefit from going through with the adoption process. Here’s why:

Legal decisionmaking rights

One benefit associated with pursuing a stepparent adoption is that this process allows you to exercise the same legal rights that any biological parent would have over your stepchild’s life or future. You will be able to consent to their medical treatment, enroll them in school and make other important decisions on their behalf.

Ability to step in as guardian

If anything should happen to your spouse, you could lose access to your stepchild entirely. Generally speaking, the court will place a dependant child with biological relatives if their only available biological parent dies. Once you’re an adoptive parent, however, you have the same rights over the child as any biological parent. You need never fear separation from your child after a tragedy.

Entitlement to an inheritance

State intestate succession rules often apply when an individual passes away without having a will in place. Any stepchildren that you adopt would be eligible to receive an inheritance just like a biological child would if you adopted them. Otherwise, they may not be barring you from including them in your will. 

How to proceed if you’re considering adoption

While you may have all the right intentions for wanting to adopt your stepchild, you’ll need to seek out the termination of any living biological parent’s parental rights to do so. There may be additional requirements that you have to meet to adopt your stepchild. An attorney familiar with Virginia law family law can go over what those requirements may be and guide you through the process.