Wondering what you need to do for step-parent adoption in Georgia?
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So, let’s dig right in.
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There are some things that you need to know about step-parent adoption in Georgia before you take it on.
The biological father may have been paying child support.
(Even if he has not been, this is still important to know.)
When the father terminates his parental rights, he is no longer obligated to pay child support.
Child support laws say that people with legal rights are financially responsible for the child.
When a person goes through with step-parent adoption in Georgia, they now have legal rights to the child.
This means that the step-parent who adopted the child is now financially responsible for the child.
You were probably expecting to be financially responsible for the child.
But here’s what shocked me.
If you adopt a step-child and get divorced, you will have to pay child support for that child.
Since you adopted the step-child, you have legal rights to them.
This means you have the right to child custody.
And it means you will pay child support until they are 18.
So, if the biological parent can terminate parental rights, why can’t you?
It got them out of paying child support.
The family law in Georgia forces there to be two parents for the child AFTER two parents have established parental rights.
That clarification is there because of children born out of wedlock.
If the father never establishes parental rights, then the mother has sole parental rights.
But after the father has established parental rights, the family law will not let parental rights get terminated.
The only way parental rights can get terminated is with step-parent adoption in Georgia.
This keeps parents from terminating parental rights to escape paying child support.
Adopting a stepchild with an absent father is relatively easy.
An absent father falls into two categories:
Usually, absent fathers do not have any parental rights to the child.
This could be from:
Either way, they don’t have parental rights that you need to terminate.
Adopting a stepchild with an absent father, in this scenario, is relatively easy.
But what if the absent father does have parental rights to the child?
Then you will have to terminate those parental rights.
Only two people can have parental rights to a child at a given time.
If you are adopting a stepchild with an absent father, you are trying to gain parental rights.
You can ask the courts to terminate an absent father’s parental rights if you can prove:
Adopting a stepchild with an absent father can get tricky when trying to terminate parental rights.
There are certain loopholes that you have to jump through to be successful.
Fill out the form on this page to get a free, 30-minute consultation with our experienced family lawyers.
Related: Reasons a Judge Will Change Custody
First, let’s cover a little background.
Let’s say you and your child’s biological father were not married at the time of birth.
In this case, there is a chance that he does not have legal rights over that child.
An unmarried father must establish paternity to have parental rights over the child.
Establishing paternity Georgia requires both parents to sign the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form.
If this gets signed at the hospital, the father’s name gets added to the birth certificate.
But if the father does not sign that form, he will not get added to the birth certificate.
This means that paternity will not get established.
Without signing this form, the father has no legal rights to the child that was born out of marriage.
Related: How a Mother Can Lose a Custody Battle
But paternity can get established at a later date.
The father will have to fill out and sign the Paternity Acknowledgement Form.
Once this is complete, he has to submit it to the Vital Records Office.
When you are trying to figure out how to adopt a stepchild, you need the permission of the custodial parents.
If the biological father is not on the birth certificate, then he has not established paternity.
Without establishing paternity, he has zero custodial rights.
This means your husband can adopt your child without the biological father’s consent.
Without the father having established paternity, the mother is the only custodial parent.
But not every biological father without established paternity is an absent father.
What happens when the biological father is involved but has not established paternity?
The courts may make you give the biological father notice of the step-parent adoption in Georgia.
This is especially true when the biological father:
If the biological father has not done any of this, then let’s assume you’re adopting a stepchild with an absent father.
Most likely, you won’t have to worry about him objecting.
Speak to your family law attorney and present the information to them.
Ask them whether your husband can adopt your child without the biological father’s consent.
Let’s assume that the biological father:
If this is the case, he usually can not object to the adoption.
Related: Who Has Custody of a Child When the Parents Are Not Married?
If the biological father is not on the birth certificate, your husband can adopt your son.
This is assuming that the biological father:
If the biological father has not established paternity, then he has no legal rights to the child.
Signing a birth certificate gives him the automatic establishment of paternity.
And he can only sign the birth certificate at the hospital at the time of birth.
But he could have established paternity by:
Let’s say the biological father has established paternity.
And let’s say neither of you ever had the birth certificate amended.
That would mean he’s not on the birth certificate.
But it does not mean that he has not established paternal rights to the child.
If this is the case, even if the biological father is not on the birth certificate, your husband cannot adopt your son.
The only way, in this case, would be for the biological father to give consent for step-parent adoption.
He would also have to terminate his parental rights to your son.
As you can tell, adopting stepchildren can get tricky.
Hire an experienced family lawyer to be successful at adoption.
Related: Georgia Child Support Laws for Non Custodial Parents
For step-parent adoption in Georgia, the biological parent’s rights must get terminated.
Per family law, a child can only have two parents with legal rights to the child.
So, for step-parent adoption in Georgia, the father has to give up his parental rights.
That is if he has any established parental rights.
And Georgia requires the biological parent to provide written consent to this termination.
This isn’t always easy, though, so there are some exceptions to this rule.
Sometimes it is possible for your husband to adopt your child without the biological father’s consent.
The court is able to end the biological father’s rights without his consent if:
It can be pretty difficult to prove some of these things, but that does not mean it’s impossible.
If you are unable to have the court
Per the family laws, you need consent from both parents for step-parent adoption in Georgia.
This would be your spouse and the non-custodial parent.
When consenting to step-parent adoption, the non-custodial parent relinquishes all parental rights.
They also give up all responsibilities like child support.
But the non-custodial parent can object to adopting a stepchild.
If the parent objects to you adopting a stepchild, the laws may block your adoption in Georgia.
There are some scenarios where the laws will still allow step-parent adoption in Georgia.
This is why you need a family law attorney on your side.
Related: Grounds for Full Custody of Child
Now that you have gotten (or tried to get) consent, it’s time to hire a family law attorney.
They will be able to guide you through how to adopt a stepchild in Georgia.
They know the relevant Georgia adoption case laws that can benefit you.
If you are having issues with adopting a stepchild in Georgia, these case laws can help.
They look at outcomes of other similar cases.
And they use those outcomes as reasons you should be able to proceed with a step-parent adoption in Georgia.
Your family law attorney will be able to provide you with your stepparent adoption forms.
If you need help filling the stepparent adoption forms out, they can guide you through that.
And they will review the step-parent adoption papers to make sure you filled them out correctly.
Related: Moving Out of State With Child No Custody Agreement
After you have filled out the stepparent adoption forms, they will file the petition for you.
They will handle:
After your attorney files the papers, they will hire someone to serve the adoption petition.
The courts require the non-custodial parent to be served the step-parent adoption papers in Georgia.
This provides the non-custodial parent the opportunity to contest the stepchild adoption.
After your family lawyer has the proof of service, they can schedule the adoption hearing.
Related: If There Is No Custody Order In Place Can I Take My Child?
Your family law attorney will be able to schedule the adoption hearing based on the:
Unfortunately, your calendar does not get taken into account during these schedulings.
An adoption hearing is scheduled to best fit everyone’s schedule.
Then, your attorney will notify you of the court hearing date and time.
You will be required to attend this adoption hearing.
Your stepchild adoption hearing is held so that the judge can question the parties involved.
Your family law attorney will advise you on how:
Whatever your family lawyer tells you, please listen to them.
They have years of experience in front of the judge.
They know how you should conduct yourself for the best chances of success.
Most of the people who don’t take our advice lose their step-parent adoption hearings.
Whether it’s that:
If the judge grants you step-parent adoption, then you will get the adoption certificates that day.
Most likely, your family lawyer will get the adoption certificates for you.
They will also have copies made for you as well.
This way, you don’t have to worry about any of it.
After you have been approved for step-parent adoption, it’s time to amend the birth certificate.
Birth certificates are amended so that no one knows that the child is adopted.
Amending a birth certificate is part of the stepchild adoption process in Georgia.
Sometimes, you don’t have to do anything to get a new birth certificate.
For step-parent adoption in Georgia, the state will send a new birth certificate automatically.
But it’s always smart to play it safe and verify this with your family lawyer.
Sometimes, different counties in Georgia may do different things for no clear reason.
Related: Emergency Custody
How much does it cost to adopt a stepchild in Georgia?
It usually costs anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 to adopt a stepchild.
The fees associated with stepchild adoption are:
The largest cost to adopt a stepchild is the attorney fees.
If you can adopt the stepchild on your own, you can save $1,000+.
If the non-custodial parent is being difficult, you may have to hire an attorney regardless.
Hiring a family lawyer will give you the best chances of successful step-parent adoption in Georgia.
Now that you know how to adopt a stepchild, how long does a step-parent adoption take?
Step-parent adoptions in Georgia can be broken into two types:
An uncontested stepchild adoption takes 6-12 weeks.
This really depends on how quickly your local court system operates.
For an adopted that the non-custodial parent contests, it can take 6+ months for a stepchild adoption.
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