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

New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire?

To adopt a stepchild in New Hampshire, 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 New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, a stepparent may want to adopt their stepchild for a variety of reasons, including creating a formal parent-child relationship and receiving the legal responsibilities and rights of a parent.

In addition, it places financial responsibility and the authority to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare in the stepparent’s hands.

Adoption can also give the child a feeling of permanency and security and the chance to inherit from the adopted parent.

The family might feel more united and the stepparent-child relationship can be strengthened with the aid of adoption.

As long as the other parent consents or the court determines that maintaining the connection is not in the child’s best interest, stepparent adoption is a reasonably straightforward process in New Hampshire.

How to Adopt Your Stepchild in New Hampshire

To adopt your stepchild in New Hampshire 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

Adopting a stepchild in New Hampshire is not legally required yet very much recommended. It is important to think about contacting a lawyer for the adoption process as they may offer direction throughout the adoption process.

A lawyer can assist you in navigating New Hampshire’s legal procedures for adoption, verify that all required documentation is correctly filled out, and, if necessary, represent you in court.

An attorney can give you guidance on the best course of action as well as explain the rights and obligations associated with adoption.

They can also offer advice on how to obtain the other parent’s approval, which is necessary for New Hampshire and can help you file the needed paperwork and documents.

A lawyer can assist you with court appearance preparation and, if necessary, represent you in court.

Additionally, they can assist you in comprehending the legal ramifications of adoption and respond to any questions you may have.

An attorney can provide you peace of mind and ensure that the adoption is done in the child’s and the family’s best interests, even if the adoption procedure goes smoothly.

Visit here for a board-certified adoption lawyer in New Hampshire.

Visit Your Local Courthouse

If there are any stepparents in New Hampshire who are interested in adopting their stepchild, they should inquire with their local courthouse regarding the adoption procedure and court form packets.

The local courthouse will have details on the particular prerequisites for stepparent adoption in their region, as well as the forms and paperwork that must be filled out and submitted.

Stepparents who want to adopt their stepchild can get started by requesting court form packets from the neighborhood courthouse, yet not all courthouses provide them.

These packets can assist stepparents in understanding the information required and how to properly fill out the forms necessary for the adoption process.

It’s vital to keep in mind that not all courthouses will have the paperwork and packets available, so it’s important to check with your local courtroom to make sure they do.

The court staff can direct stepparents to the appropriate forms and answer any queries they may have regarding the procedure.

Find a local New Hampshire courthouse near you.

Purchase Stepchild Adoption Court Forms Through a Service

Stepparent adoption court forms are available for purchase through services online for each state such as New Hampshire. These services may also offer to fill them out for the stepparent.

Despite the possibility that these services will offer court forms, they cannot and will not offer legal advice. Yet they do offer the forms with complete instructions, as well as assistance with filing them.

These forms might not always reflect the newest rules and legislation, and they might not be relevant in every circumstance.

For the most precise and recent information, it is advised to consult a lawyer or the local court.

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

Adoption Process

The filing of an adoption petition is the first stage in the stepparent adoption procedure in New Hampshire. This is a legal document that is submitted to the court, and it contains details on the biological parent, the stepparent, and the stepchild.

The petition must include the signatures of both the biological and stepparents, as well as copies of important papers such as birth certificates and proofs of residency.

Filing of the Petition for Adoption

The filing of an adoption petition is the first stage in the stepparent adoption procedure in New Hampshire. This is a legal document that is submitted to the court, and it contains details on the biological parent, the stepparent, and the stepchild.

The petition must include the signatures of both the biological and stepparents, as well as copies of important papers such as birth certificates and proofs of residency.

The court in the county where the stepparent and stepchild reside must receive the petition for adoption. It should have the following details:

  • The stepparent’s and the stepchild’s names and addresses
  • The status of the stepparent-stepchild relationship
  • The biological parent’s identity and relationship to the stepchild’s biological parent
  • A declaration indicating the stepparent’s readiness and ability to adopt the stepchild
  • A declaration that the adoption is in the child’s best interests

The stepparent must additionally submit the following paperwork to the court:

  • The stepparent’s and the stepchild’s birth certificates
  • Proof of the stepparent’s and stepchild’s residency
  • The biological parent’s approval (if they are willing to give it)

After the petition for adoption is submitted, the court will check to make sure everything is in order before approving it.

The court may also arrange a hearing when questions about the adoption can be raised with the stepparent and the stepchild.

The adoption petition must be factual, comprehensive, and include all necessary supporting documentation.

The court has the right to reject a petition and order that any missing or incorrect information be added before asking for it to be revised or resubmitted.

Home Study and Background Check

After the adoption petition is submitted, a home study will be carried out. This is a review of the stepparent’s household and personal circumstances. To make sure the home is secure and appropriate for the child, a social worker will visit and speak with the stepparent and stepchild.

In addition, the social worker will watch how the stepparent and stepchild interact and evaluate the home’s emotional and physical climate.

The stepparent’s income, work, and criminal background will all be included in the home study, which will also evaluate the stepparent’s parenting abilities, understanding of child development, and capacity to support the child.

The stepparent will also have all aspects of their background checked to make sure there is no evidence of child abuse or neglect in the past.

This investigation will look into the criminal background as well as any prior engagement with child welfare. The national child abuse register will also be checked as part of the background investigation.

During the home study, the stepparent should be forthright and honest with the social worker and share any information that would be pertinent to the child’s welfare.

Usually, the adoption petition, the home study report, and other necessary paperwork are filed with the court along with the adoption petition.

The report may be used by the court to determine if the stepparent is qualified to adopt the child and whether the home is a secure and healthy environment for the child.

Depending on the particulars of the case, the home study and background check procedure may take several weeks or months to complete.

In order to guarantee that all the required information is acquired, the stepparent should be aware that this procedure will likely take some time and cooperate closely with the social worker.

Consent of the Biological Parent

Getting the biological parent’s approval is one of the key steps in New Hampshire’s stepparent adoption procedure. The biological parent will typically need to sign a consent document before the adoption can move forward.

This permission form is a legal declaration that the biological parent is ready to relinquish custody of the kid and that they are aware of the implications of doing so.

It’s significant to remember that a stepparent adoption does not always necessitate the biological parent’s approval.

The biological parent’s rights may occasionally have been revoked by the court or the biological parent may have passed away. In such circumstances, the stepparent wouldn’t need to get permission from the biological parent.

If the biological parent is willing to agree, it must be freely provided after being informed of one’s rights and the potential repercussions of doing so.

Before providing their approval, the biological parent must be given the chance to talk with a lawyer.

The petition for adoption and other necessary paperwork must be submitted to the court with the biological parent’s approval.

The permission will be examined by the court to make sure it was freely granted and that the biological parent was aware of its implications.

It’s crucial to understand that the stepparent won’t be allowed to adopt the child if the biological parent refuses to give consent.

In certain situations, the stepparent might need to consult with a lawyer to ask for the biological parent’s rights to be terminated.

Termination of the Biological Parent’s Rights

In some instances, the biological parent might not agree to the stepparent adoption or might be disqualified from having parental rights. The stepparent might need to ask for the rights of the biological parent to be terminated in such circumstances.

It takes a court petition and evidence that the biological parent is unfit or that terminating their rights would be in the child’s best interest before a biological parent’s rights can be terminated.

Parental rights can be terminated in New Hampshire for a variety of reasons, including abandonment, abuse, neglect, lack of support, fitness, and failure to keep regular touch with the child.

A hearing will be held in order for the court to decide whether or not the biological parent’s rights should be terminated.

The court will take into account evidence during the hearing, including witness testimony, social worker reports, and the results of the home study.

When making its decision, the court will also take the child’s best interests into account.

Terminating a biological parent’s parental rights is a serious matter, and the court will weigh the interests of both the child and the biological parent.

The child’s need for consistency, permanence and a secure home environment will be taken into account by the court.

The stepparent will be able to move on with the adoption without the biological parent’s permission if the court terminates the biological parent’s rights.

Finalization of the Adoption

The court will schedule a finalization hearing once it has gone over all the relevant paperwork, including the petition for adoption, the consent of the biological parent (if necessary), and the home study report, and has decided that the adoption is in the child’s best interest.

In New Hampshire, the stepparent adoption procedure ends with the finalization hearing. The stepparent, the child, and any other required parties will appear before the judge during the court hearing.

To make sure that everyone involved understands the adoption and that it is in the child’s best interests, the court will question the stepparent, the child, and the stepparent in turn.

A final order of adoption will be issued by the judge after they are convinced that it is in the child’s best interest.

This order officially recognizes the stepparent as the child’s parent and revokes the biological parent’s parental rights.

A new birth certificate for the child with the stepparent’s name as the child’s parent must be obtained after the final order of adoption is issued.

If desired, the stepparent may also decide to modify the child’s last name.

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

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 average 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 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.

For an adoption attorney near you, visit

Do-It-Yourself Stepparent Adoption in New Hampshire

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 New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire?

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.

In most cases, a home study is not necessary for stepparent adoptions in New Hampshire.

In most cases, the adoptive parent will only be subjected to a background check that includes a criminal records check, a child abuse registry check, and an adult abuse registry check.

Expect a GAL (guardian ad litem) to be appointed to undertake an inquiry into the best interests of the child if the biological father’s (or mother’s) rights need to be terminated.

Does the Stepchild Have to Consent to an Adoption in New Hampshire?

A child who is fourteen (14) years and older must provide signed consent to their own adoption in New Hampshire. 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 New Hampshire?

Under citation code Rev. Stat. § 170-B:5, a father’s consent to an adoption in the state of New Hampshire involves the following.

A surrender of parental rights shall be obtained from:

  • The legal father provided that if he is under age 18, the court may require the assent of his parents or legal guardian
  • The birth father provided that he was found to be entitled to notice and that if he is under age 18, the court may require the assent of his parents or legal guardian

Surrender of parental rights is not required of:

  • The alleged father has not met the requirements of § 170‑B:5(I) or § 170‑B:6
  • A parent whose parental rights have been voluntarily or involuntarily terminated by a court in another State
  • An alleged father who is found not to be the father
  • Any parent of the adoptee if the adoptee is an adult
  • A parent whose parental rights have been terminated
  • An alleged father who is convicted of an offense under §§ 632‑A:2, 632‑A:3, 632‑A:4, or 639:2 that resulted in the conception of the child
  • For parents whose parental rights have been determined to be voluntarily or involuntarily terminated by the proper authorities in another country, such determination to be evidenced by documentation issued by the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. Department of State and deemed acceptable by probate court rule

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.