How to Adopt Your Stepchild in Louisiana: 3 Things You Must Know

Louisiana adoptions can be full of long processes and requirements, yet when adopting your stepchild, the process is not always that extensive. Many stepparents fall in love with their stepchildren and wish to adopt them as their own. So how do you adopt your stepchild in Louisiana?

To adopt a stepchild in Louisiana, the stepparent wishing to adopt must obtain stepchild adoption court forms, often available at the local courthouse, or may be purchased online from a court form service. If the biological parent is contest the adoption, then hiring a lawyer is strongly encouraged.

adopting a stepchild in Louisiana

Stepparents in Louisiana may want to adopt their stepchildren for multiple causes. This could be to create a lawful parent-child bond and secure legitimate privileges and obligations as a guardian.

This can include the authorization to make decisions related to the child’s upbringing, admittance to the child’s medical appointments, and so much more.

Additionally, the adoption could present psychological and emotional gains for the child, such as a new sense of stability and security.

Another motive could be to cancel the legitimate rights of the child’s biological parent which is not beneficial for them.

How to Adopt Your Stepchild in Louisiana

To adopt your stepchild in Louisiana you can either hire a lawyer, visit your local courthouse and ask if they provide stepchild adoption court form packets, or purchase court forms through a service that specializes in stepchild adoption court forms.

Hire an Adoption Lawyer

Choosing to hire an attorney is not a prerequisite for stepchild adoption in Louisiana, yet it is something to consider. The adoption process can be intricate and necessitate compliance with numerous lawful requirements and protocols to be successful.

An attorney can facilitate you through the process and guarantee that all of the necessary documents are accurately concluded and submitted expeditiously.

In addition, an attorney can stipulate invaluable counsel and advocacy if there are any legal conflicts or debates that come up during the adoption procedure.

Lawyers in Louisiana can provide legal representation in court, handle the particular regulations that are unique to the state, explain the implications of adoption, and guide you through the process while safeguarding your rights.

Considering that hiring a lawyer is not required, it can make the adoption process flow smoother and cause less anxiety.

It also ensures that the procedure is conducted lawfully and all parties’ rights are preserved.

Visit here for a board-certified adoption lawyer in Louisiana.

Visit Your Local Courthouse

In Louisiana, stepparents who would like to adopt a stepchild should visit their local courthouse for details about the legal requirements and procedures involved in adoption. It may also be possible to acquire court form packets at the courthouse.

Adoption court form packets usually contain all the required documents and forms, such as the petition for adoption, consent forms from the biological parents, and any other required forms or paperwork, to complete the process.

It is important to bear in mind that some court forms may not be applicable to stepparents adoption and you may require legal advice to determine which documents you must fill out.

Before beginning the adoption process, it’s crucial to obtain all of the required paperwork and information from your local courthouse, since different courts may have varying requirements and procedures.

Though obtaining court form packets may make the process simpler, it’s still recommended to have a lawyer review the forms and provide guidance before submitting them to the court so as to avoid any errors or oversights.

Find a local Louisiana courthouse near you.

Purchase Stepchild Adoption Court Forms Through a Service

In Louisiana, a stepparent can choose to go through the adoption process and obtain the necessary documents easily by purchasing stepchild adoption forms from a service. These services provide forms that are tailored to fit the state’s laws and guidelines.

A stepparent interested in bringing their family together can look for options such as private companies or non-profit organizations that offer adoption forms for Louisiana.

All they have to do is search the internet using terms like “stepparent adoption forms Louisiana” or “stepparent adoption forms” and a list of potential services will appear.

When using forms and documents from services, it is important to have a lawyer review them and advise you prior to submitting them to the court to prevent errors and omissions.

Make sure the service can be trusted by reviewing its reviews or testimonials from other consumers.

It is essential to remember that these services typically require payment and, therefore, it’s a must to compare prices prior to making a choice.

Visit here for more information on the requirements to adopt in Louisiana.

Curious about how much it would cost to adopt your stepchild? We put together an article just for you.

Adoption Process

In Louisiana, the adoption process for stepparents usually requires them to file a petition, complete a home study and background check, gain consent from the biological parent and cut all ties with the biological parent. This is followed by a court hearing to finish off the adoption.

Filing of the Petition for Adoption

The first stage in the adoption process for stepparents adopting their stepchildren in Louisiana is the filing of the Petition for Adoption. The petition, a formal legal document that asks the court to sanction the adoption, contains details on the biological parent, the stepparent, and the stepchild.

The court in the parish where the stepchild resides must receive the petition which must include the following:

  • Names, addresses, and dates of birth of the biological parent, the stepparent, and the stepchild
  • The reason behind the desired adoption and why it is in the child’s best interests
  • Information regarding any prior unions, divorces, or court cases involving the parties
  • Information regarding the results of the background investigation and home study
  • The biological parent’s approval (if voluntary)
  • The loss of parental rights for the biological parent (if involuntary)

When filing the petition, the stepparent will need to pay a fee.

It is critical to ensure that the application is properly filled out and all essential facts are included.

An attorney can advise you through the steps and ensure that all necessary documentation is completed correctly and delivered promptly.

After the request has been submitted, the court will schedule a date for a hearing to consider the adoption request.

The court may also mandate a home study and criminal background check prior to the hearing.

Home Study and Background Check

In Louisiana, a home study and background check are necessary components of the adoption process for stepparents looking to adopt their stepchildren.

This consists of a visit from a social worker to the home of the stepparent and stepchild, in which the living environment and relationship between them are evaluated to make sure it meets safety requirements and can provide for the child’s needs.

A typical home study by a social worker includes:

  • Asking the stepparent and stepchild questions.
  • Observing the interaction between the stepparent and stepchild.
  • Verifying the safety and appropriateness of the home for the child by doing an inspection.
  • Learning the stepparent’s finances, employment, and financial condition.
  • Obtaining details about the stepparent’s health and any criminal history.
  • Obtaining details regarding any prior unions, divorces, or court cases involving the parties.

A background check is conducted on the stepparent to confirm that they do not have any past criminal history or other issues which would deem them an unsuitable parent.

This includes a search for their criminal background, child abuse registry, and any other relevant information.

It is crucial to remember that both a home study and a background check are mandatory, and must be done before the adoption can continue.

The court will take into account the results of these assessments when making its decision on the adoption.

It’s worth mentioning that the home study and background check are usually conducted by the state, though in some instances, the court may appoint a private agency to conduct these assessments.

Consent of the Biological Parent

In Louisiana, a stepparent wishing to adopt their stepchild must obtain consent from the biological parent. This usually entails having them sign a consent form relinquishing their parental rights and authorizing the adoption.

In many cases, the biological parent who does not have legal custody of the child is considered the non-custodial parent.

However, there may be certain situations that require consent from the custodial parent in order for a decision to be valid.

When a biological parent contests an adoption, the court examines the child’s best interest to determine if the adoption will move forward.

In doing so, they may also require a home study and background check to help them make their decision.

The court will not approve the adoption without the required consent of the biological parent, so it is critical to take this into consideration.

It’s essential to ensure that the biological parent has consented voluntarily to the adoption and not due to fraud, duress, or any other unfair actions.

If a court finds the consent invalid, the adoption may be denied.

Termination of the Biological Parent’s Rights

Stepparents adopting their stepchildren in Louisiana must take the essential step of terminating the biological parent’s rights. This will end the legal bond between the child and the birth parent, and allow for the stepparent to become a legal guardian.

There are two ways to end a biological parent’s parental rights:

  • Voluntary Termination: This happens when the child’s biological parent voluntarily relinquishes their parental rights.
  • Involuntary Termination: This happens when the biological parent’s rights are terminated by the court against their desire. If the child’s biological parent is judged to be unfit to parent, or if they have abandoned or neglected the child, this may occur.

The biological parent no longer has any legal rights or responsibilities towards the child after the termination of their parental rights.

This generally means decision-making about the child’s upbringing, and access to medical and educational records, as well as an inheritance for the child.

In order to move forward with the adoption, it is necessary for the biological parent’s rights to be terminated first; otherwise, the court will not grant approval.

Although the biological parent’s rights may be terminated, it is possible for the child to maintain some kind of relationship with them if they are willing and able to have a beneficial role in their life.

Finalization of the Adoption

For stepparents adopting their stepchildren in Louisiana, finalizing the adoption is the last step in the adoption process. In this stage, a court hearing will take place where the judge will hear the case and make a determination regarding whether to grant the adoption.

The following processes are normally taken before the adoption is finalized:

  • The biological parent’s permission, the termination of the biological parent’s rights, the home study, and any other pertinent paperwork will all be reviewed by the court along with the adoption petition.
  • The adoption will be discussed by the court at a hearing. The court will normally ask the stepparent, the stepchild, and any other pertinent parties a few questions concerning the adoption during this brief and informal hearing.
  • If the adoption is accepted, the stepparent would have parental rights and obligations and the child will be regarded as their legal child. This covers the rights to decide how the child will be raised, have access to the child’s medical and academic records, and give the child inheritance rights.
  • The court will issue a final order of adoption after the adoption is granted, which is a legal document that formally creates the parent-child relationship.

The final order of adoption must be issued in order for the adoption process to be considered complete, making the finalization an essential step.

Even after an adoption is finalized, the child’s biological family will always be a part of their life.

It’s important to foster and maintain a healthy relationship with the biological family if they are able and willing, in addition to creating a new legal family by way of adoption.

Should I Adopt My Stepchild?

A part of life is that many parents find themselves remarried with stepchildren. You may be asking yourself, should I adopt my stepchild?

You should adopt your stepchild if you are prepared for a lifelong commitment. Adoption is permanent, and you cannot change your mind should you and your spouse later decide to divorce. If you are prepared to love and honor your commitment to your adopted stepchild, you should adopt your stepchild.

If you are considering adopting your stepchild or stepchildren, there are some things you will want to think about before taking the plunge.

It is safe to assume that you love your stepchild, so let’s go over some things to make sure you have covered all your bases.

It is important to remember that adopting your stepchild is a lifelong commitment. You may have a very good marriage now, but even good marriages can turn rocky.

At the beginning of a new marriage, you are in love and over the moon with happiness. Having romantic ideas of how the family dynamics will be is normal and sets a positive path forward.

Just know that you cannot simply change your mind about the adoption down the road if your marriage does not work out.

If you are unwilling to continue the parent/child relationship if your marriage goes south, then you should not adopt your stepchild.

Should the marriage end in divorce, you will still need to have cordial communications with the child’s other parent to co-parent your child.

Other things to consider would be if your marriage ended in divorce, you would be financially responsible for half of the expense of raising the child.

After a divorce, you would still be tied to your spouse for life, as you would both have a child together. Until the child turns 18 years of age, there will still be periods when the child resides with you.

No one wants to think about the possibility of divorce when things feel so right. Statistically, however, about half of all marriages end in divorce.

If you are not willing to make a lifelong commitment to a child, then you should not adopt the child.

Providing you do decide to proceed with the adoption of your stepchild, keep in mind that there are things you will want and need to do afterward to tie up any loose ends.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Adopt My Stepchild?

It’s a common question, do you need a lawyer to adopt your stepchild?

You do not need a lawyer to adopt your stepchild. Visit your local courthouse to acquire the required court forms and a list of requirements. Although you are not required to have an attorney to adopt your stepchild, hiring an attorney for any life-changing event is highly recommended.

You most certainly do not need an attorney to adopt your stepchild, as the process is a bit less complicated than other types of adoption.

Do-It-Yourself Stepparent Adoption in Louisiana

Attorneys are nice to have and can do the leg work for you, but you most certainly do not need an attorney to adopt your stepchild.

If you are feeling a bit lost and want more information on starting your adoption journey, you may want to visit Louisiana Adoption Requirements: Complete Guide.

Just keep in mind that many of the requirements will not apply to you if you are already residing with your stepchild.

Providing there is no anticipated legal battle from one of the biological parents, then one would be encouraged to obtain the court forms from your local courthouse, usually available to download online.

You may also wish to contact your local Department of Human Resources to speak to someone about how to process your adoption petition or reach out to your local courthouse.

Most courthouses have what is called a facilitator who helps guide you in the steps you need to take to complete legal processes without a lawyer.

Stepparent Adoption Contested by Biological Parent

Adopting a stepchild involves obtaining the permission of both biological parents. You will need the blessing of your spouse as well as the other parent.

How will the biological parent feel about the idea of a stepparent wanting to adopt their child? This depends on the relationship between the biological parent and the child.

There are times when the other parent will voluntarily terminate their rights to their child. Perhaps there is very little relationship between the parent and child.

If the stepparent has taken on the active parenting role, and if the biological parent recognizes their lack of involvement, they may agree to know the adoption decision is in the best interest of their child.

When the biological parent’s rights are terminated, it also frees them from court-ordered financial obligations.

Sadly, this can be a huge motivating factor for some biological parents to voluntarily terminate their rights to their children.

What do you do, though, if the biological parent refuses to give permission and contests the adoption? States will almost always only allow two parents to have parental rights to a child.

However, there have been a few cases where the courts have allowed three parents.

States are required to take the parental rights of the biological parent very seriously and will only terminate their parental rights if the parent is proven to be unfit, is not the true biological parent, or has in essence abandoned the child.

A parent can be found to be unfit for several reasons. Examples of an unfit parent can be things like being abusive or neglectful. Are they incarcerated or have they been incarcerated?

Is the biological parent’s home environment safe for this child? What type of people do they hang out with and have visited their home? Many things can deem a parent unfit.

For a parent to be accused of parental abandonment, the parent must not have spent any time with the child or paid child support in a very long time, usually a year.

If there is a question of paternity and it can be proven through the court system that the “biological” parent is not the parent, after all, that opens the door for adoption possibilities.

However, the rights tend to be placed with the biological parent, so that can be a tricky scenario.

Telling a Child Their Stepparent is Adopting Them

Depending on the age of this child being adopted, you will most certainly be excited to tell them the good news! In some states, a child over a certain age will need to permit to be adopted.

Not telling the child they are being adopted by the stepparent can create mistrust and hurt down the road, so think twice if you were planning on not telling them until later.

I strongly encourage you to not keep the adoption hidden from the child or children. Allow them the opportunity to be excited about being adopted! Involve them in the process and celebrate!

And hats off to you if you are a stepparent considering adopting your stepchild. It takes a huge heart and unconditional love to adopt a child that is not biologically yours.

And when you are helping raise a child, you are already a huge part of their life whether you make it official or not.

What are the Home Study Requirements for Stepparent Adoptions in Louisiana?

Prior to permitting an adoption to take place, a home study or home study is a screening of the home and lives of potential adoptive parents.

A home study is needed by legislation in some countries, as well as in all international adoptions. Even though it isn’t legally needed, an adoption agency may insist on it.

There is usually no house inspection or inquiry into the family’s home life in intrafamily adoptions.

If someone raises a concern, a court has the authority to order an inquiry and require the investigating agency to submit a report detailing its findings.

Does the Stepchild Have to Consent to an Adoption in Louisiana?

A child who is twelve (12) years and older must provide signed consent to their own adoption in Louisiana. Younger children are not required to give their consent.

You are encouraged to proceed with a stepparent adoption during a time when your stepchild will react favorably to knowing you are adopting them.

Important to remember when planning to adopt your stepchild is that it is likely your stepchild has been through quite a lot.

Absent biological parents not voluntarily involved in their child’s life can be a painful emotion to live with for your stepchild.

Another thing to consider is the timing of the stepparent adoption. Was there a divorce previous to your marriage with your stepchild’s parent that your stepchild is still reeling from?

Children often suffer emotionally from the loss of a biological parent. Even a marriage viewed as a positive step forward takes time for a child to adjust to.

Consider letting the dust settle between major life events.

Can a Child Be Adopted Without the Father’s Consent in Louisiana?

Under Citation Ch. Code Art. 1193; 1113, a father’s consent to an adoption in the state of Louisiana involves the following.

Consent to the adoption of a child shall be required of the following:

  • The father of the child, regardless of the child’s actual paternity, if any of the following apply:
    • The child is a child born of the marriage
    • The father is presumed to be the father of the child in accordance with the law
  • The alleged father of the child has established his parental rights in accordance with the law
  • The biological father of the child whose paternity has been determined by a judgment of filiation and who has established his parental rights

Trina Greenfield, Author
SmackDown Media LLC

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina is a seasoned writer, content creator, and website owner with a passion for unbiased research, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.