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

Texas 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 Texas?

To adopt a stepchild in Texas, 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 Texas

There are a number of reasons why a stepparent might want to adopt their stepchild in Texas, including:

  • Adoption provides legal parental rights and obligations to a stepparent, including the ability to decide the welfare of the child and the right to inherit from them.
  • Adoption creates a permanent legal tie between the stepparent and the child, which can provide both of them with a sense of security.
  • Adoption can give a child stability, especially if their biological parents are not actively involved in their upbringing.
  • If a stepparent loves and takes care of their stepchild as if it were their own, they could want to adopt the child.
  • Adoption is a means to formally establish a stepparent-stepchild relationship, and it can provide the family with a feeling of finality.

How to Adopt a Stepchild in Texas

To adopt your stepchild in Texas 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

Although it is not necessary to engage a lawyer to adopt a stepchild in Texas, it is something to think about.

Although adopting a stepchild in Texas is typically less complicated than other adoptions, there are still legal requirements that must be met, including filing paperwork with the court and appearing at a hearing.

The process can be made to run more smoothly and to ensure that all legal criteria are completed by hiring a lawyer.

When adopting a stepchild in Texas, it’s important to consider working with a lawyer for the following reasons:

  • An attorney can offer advice on the prerequisites for adoption and make sure that all required paperwork is correctly completed and submitted to the court.
  • During the adoption hearing, a lawyer can represent you in court and submit your case.
  • An attorney can ensure that the child’s biological parents consent to the adoption.
  • In order to preserve your rights as an adoptive parent and make sure that your relationship with the child is legal, you should hire a lawyer.
  • An attorney can assist you in completing the legal procedure more quickly and effectively, saving you both time and stress.

Overall, even though it is not necessary to hire a lawyer for a stepchild adoption in Texas, doing so should be taken into consideration because it can offer advice and representation on legal matters throughout the adoption process, assist with consent and the protection of your rights, and even save time.

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

Visit Your Local Courthouse

If a stepparent in Texas wants to adopt their stepchild, they should visit their local courthouse and ask if they provide stepparent adoption court form packets. Stepparent adoption court form packets generally include all of the required court forms and filing instructions.

When seeking information regarding stepparent adoption from their local courtroom, a stepparent should take the following factors into account:

  • The stepparent must appear in court at the courthouse that serves their location because Texas has separate courthouses for each county.
  • It is important to verify with the courthouse to determine if court form packets are available because not all Texas courthouses offer court form packets for stepparent adoptions.
  • When getting court forms, it is vital to inquire about any possible fees. Some courthouses may charge a price for court form packets.
  • Some courthouses may provide help filling out the forms or have staff members who may answer inquiries regarding the procedure.
  • All stepparent adoptions in Texas must go through a court hearing, therefore it’s crucial to confirm the date and time with the courtroom.

Find a local Texas courthouse near you.

Purchase Stepchild Adoption Court Forms Through a Service

In Texas, a stepparent who wants to adopt their stepchild can get the necessary paperwork through a service. A list of these services can be doing an internet search for “stepparent adoption forms.”

Even though these services provide stepparent adoption court forms, they do not and will not provide legal advice.

Using these services does not replace obtaining legal counsel. They are designed to offer court forms and some fundamental details to aid the stepparent in navigating the procedure.

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

Adoption Process

In Texas, there is a legal procedure that enables a stepparent to adopt their stepchild and take legal parental responsibility for the child. It is a means by which a stepparent can create a legal bond with their stepchild and acquire the same obligations and rights as a biological parent.

Filing of the Petition for Adoption

In Texas, the stepparent adoption procedure begins with the filing of the petition for adoption. The court receives the petition, a formal document that includes details about the stepparent and stepchild.

The petition for adoption will request the following information:

  • The stepparent’s and stepchild’s names, ages, and addresses
  • How the stepparent and stepchild interact
  • The motivation behind the adoption, such as the need to create a legal bond with the child or give the child a secure and caring family
  • Any more pertinent details on the stepparent and stepchild
  • The stepparent must also sign the petition and submit it to the court. The judge will then set a hearing date and assign a case number.

When submitting the petition, the stepparent will need to pay a filing fee. They may apply for a waiver or ask the court to waive the cost if they are unable to pay it.

The petition must be precisely and completely filled out; any mistakes or omissions could cause delays or possibly result in the adoption being denied.

Home Study and Background Check

The Texas stepparent adoption procedure includes an important step called the home study and background check. In order to ensure that the adoption is in the best interests of the child, this phase verifies that the stepparent and their home are suitable for adoption.

A home study is a review of the stepparent’s residence and way of life. The stepparent, their spouse, and the stepchild will all be questioned by a social worker during their visit to the home.

They will watch the stepparent’s interactions with the child as well. Among the things the social worker will check for are:

  • A comfortable and secure home setting
  • A solid and devoted household
  • Monetary security
  • Sufficient parenting abilities
  • Competence and willingness to meet the child’s physical and emotional requirements
  • The stepparent’s background will also be checked by the social worker. This will involve checking the applicant’s criminal past, looking up any prior accusations of child abuse or neglect, and looking up any prior adoptions.

The court will consider the social worker’s report to decide whether the stepparent would make a good adoptive parent and whether the adoption would be in the child’s best interests.

The stepparent must fully participate with the background check and home investigation procedures, as well as supply the social worker with any information or paperwork that may be needed.

Any unfavorable outcomes from the background investigation or home study could result in adoption delays or even rejection.

Consent of the Biological Parent

The biological parent’s approval is a crucial step in the stepparent adoption procedure in Texas. This step is essential since the adoption will revoke the biological parent’s legal rights and create a new legal bond between the stepparent and the child.

Usually, the adoption must have the approval of the biological parent. The biological parent’s approval is not necessary in situations when they are no longer alive or had their parental rights terminated.

A formal document is used to get the biological parent’s consent, in which they agree to the adoption and renounce their parental rights. The consent must be signed in front of a notary public or a representative of the court.

The consent must be given voluntarily and freely for the adoption to be valid. The adoption may be contested in court if the permission was obtained fraudulently or under duress.

It is significant to know that the biological parent may occasionally refuse to grant approval for the adoption.

To end the biological parent’s rights and move on with the adoption in these situations, the stepparent might need to request a court order.

A big step in the adoption procedure is getting the biological parents’ approval. Ensuring that the permission is lawfully obtained and that the biological parent is completely aware of the consequences of their choice is crucial.

Termination of the Biological Parent’s Rights

In Texas, the next step in the stepparent adoption procedure is the termination of the biological parent’s rights. This step is essential since the adoption will revoke the biological parent’s legal rights and create a new legal bond between the stepparent and the child.

The rights of the biological parent may be revoked freely or involuntarily.

When the biological parent voluntarily relinquishes their parental rights and approves of the adoption, this is referred to as a voluntary termination.

When the biological parent’s rights are terminated involuntarily by the court because of abuse, abandonment, or another reason, it is known as involuntary termination.

The legal procedure of involuntarily terminating the biological parent’s rights necessitates a court hearing.

The petition for termination must be submitted to the court by the stepparent or their legal representative. The petition will be communicated to the biological parent, who will then have the chance to object.

When deciding whether to revoke the rights of the biological parent, the court will take into account a number of issues, such as:

  • The child’s best interests
  • The ability of the child’s biological parent to support the child
  • The history of abuse or neglect by the biological parent
  • Any more pertinent conditions

The court will issue an order after the biological parent’s rights have been terminated, which formally removes their rights and obligations to the child.

Finalization of the Adoption

The stepparent adoption procedure in Texas is completed by finalizing the adoption. The stepparent becomes the child’s legal parent at this stage because it is the legal procedure that makes the adoption binding and formal.

The stepparent can petition the court for adoption after the home study, background check, consent of the biological parent, and termination of the biological parent’s rights have been accomplished.

The petition and the adoption documentation will be examined by the court, who might also order a hearing.

The adoption must be in the child’s best interest, and the court will confirm that all legal conditions have been completed.

A final order of adoption will be issued by the court if it determines that all legal conditions have been satisfied and that the adoption is in the child’s best interests.

The biological parent’s legal rights are terminated by this ruling, which establishes the stepparent as the child’s legal parent.

The child’s birth certificate will be updated by the adoption’s final order, which will include reflect the child’s new name, if one has been changed.

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 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 Texas

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 Texas 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 Texas?

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.

The home study procedure for a stepparent, relative, or second-parent adoption is similar to that of domestic adoption, although the child is typically already identified and likely in the household.

The adopting parent might be the natural parent’s spouse or a stepparent, grandparent, or other related of the adopted child.

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

A child who is twelve (12) years and older must provide signed consent to their own adoption in Texas. 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 Texas?

Under citation Fam. Code § 162.010, a father’s consent to an adoption in the state of Texas involves the following.

If a parent of the child is presently the spouse of the petitioner, that parent must join in the petition for adoption, and further consent of that parent is not required.

Consent of the parent is not required when:

  • The parent is unable to care for the child due to mental illness.
  • The parent has voluntarily terminated parental rights.
  • The parent has no right to consent after an abortion when the child survives.
  • A person is convicted of a crime resulting in the birth of a child.
  • The parent’s rights have been terminated on the grounds of abandonment, nonsupport, endangerment, abuse, or neglect.

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.