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How stepparents can adopt a spouse's children

When a Tennessee resident marries a person with children, he or she is often referred to as a stepparent. However, it is a relatively easy process for that person to adopt the children and become their other legal parent. The process is typically expedited because the person requesting the adoption is already related to the child's other parent. The main obstacle is getting the other biological or current legal parent to consent to the adoption.

If that parent's rights have been terminated for neglect, failing to pay child support or similar reasons, that parent's consent is generally not needed. Getting consent can also be easier if that person has no strong connection to the child. This is because giving up parental rights also means no longer having to pay child support. If a parent will not consent to give up parental rights, they could be terminated.

Rights can be terminated if the parent is unfit to perform that role, has neglected the child or is not the child's actual birth father. When a couple is married when a child is born, the husband is almost always considered the child's legal father. Abandonment usually occurs when a parent hasn't seen the child or provided any type of financial support in the past year.

In an adoption case, the best interest of the child is generally the top priority. This means that a court will likely need to be sure that giving a stepparent legal authority over that child will not cause harm. An attorney may be able to help those who are looking to adopt get a favorable outcome in their case. This may be done by showing that the potential adopter has a steady income and no prior record of abuse or neglect.

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