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What Happens at a Stepparent Adoption Hearing?

Adoption by a stepparent can be one of the happiest times of life. Adoption will give all children in a blended family the same parents and everyone will be on equal footing. There are several phases to a stepparent adoption. The last phase is the final stepparent adoption hearing. You may wonder what to expect at the adoption hearing. Here are some key things to know about the hearing.

The final stepparent adoption hearing generally takes place in the judge’s chamber. You are not typically in a traditional courtroom. The judge’s chamber is a smaller, more intimate area that is like a conference room. Everyone who is involved in the adoption will take seats at the table. A final hearing is usually not long. You can expect to be in chambers for under an hour, in most instances.

The final adoption hearing is the last step in a stepparent adoption. The judge needs to make sure that all of the initial details were successfully completed in order to make a judgment in the case. The judge will review all of the details and documentation of the situation. There are several things that must have occurred ahead of the hearing:

  • Biological parental rights termination. The bio-parent must have provided consent to relinquish parental rights to allow for adoption by a stepparent.
  • If the biological parent did not consent, you must show proof that the parent gave up his rights. For example, if you cannot locate the parent or the parent was not in the child’s life for a long period of time.
  • Completed report that shows that the stepparent home is suitable for the child
  • Show that the stepparent can provide for the child’s welfare and care.

Usually, the child attends the final hearing along with the parent and stepparent. The judge will ask the stepparent if he willingly agrees to the adoption and will ask the same of the biological parent. The judge will also ask the child if he or she is in favor of the adoption.

If there are any open issues or if there are issues with the paperwork, the hearing will not take place. The final hearing is only scheduled once everything necessary is ready. There should be no surprises at the final hearing. It will be a short hearing that is simply a formality in the adoption process.

Keep in mind that the judge will always do what is in the best interest of the child. If everyone is in agreement and the documents are in order, the judge will make a legal order that completes the adoption process. The stepparent is now the legal parent of the child and is no longer considered a stepparent. The child may now change his last name legally to the last name of the adoptive parent.

Once the process is complete, the adoption is final. The court will record the matter and provide you with documentation once that is done. You and your adoptive child can now enjoy a celebration to commemorate this happy day. To learn more about adoptions and for assistance with a stepparent adoption, contact our experienced legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. or call us online at (608) 784-8310.

Published September 16, 2020
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