"Adopting one child won’t change the world, but for that child, the world will change."
Blended families are increasingly common today as parents marry and remarry. Children are often raised by one natural and biological parent and one stepparent. When the family wishes to legally blend that family and remove the "stepparent" label, stepparent or second parent adoption is an attractive option to legally bring the family together.
A stepparent adoption, like any other adoption, will result in the same legal rights and obligations as if the child were the natural and biological child of the stepparent. A new birth certificate will be issued for the child listing former stepparent and his or her spouse as the child's parents, and the parental rights of the biological parent who is not the stepparent's spouse will be legally terminated. These adoptions may proceed uncontested with the consent of both biological parents or with proper notice to the biological parent who is not the stepparent's spouse if that parent has failed to communicate or financially support the child for at least one year prior to the filing. Strench Law can help guide you through the process to help you build the loving family you desire.
Same Sex Marriage, Parenting, & Adoption
Following the June 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, Ohio now allows same sex marriages and recognizes same sex marriages legally performed in other states. So what does this mean for their children?
Married same sex couples may now be recognized with both parents listed on their children's birth certificates. Going forward, legal presumptions of parentage will now apply to the non-biological parent of children born to one parent during the marriage. Similarly, both parents may now adopt together, whereas Ohio did not allow adoption by two same sex individuals (since their marriages were not legally recognized).
What about children born to or adopted by both parents in a state which allowed same sex married couples to adopt prior to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision? Given how recent the law has changed, there is still quite a bit unsettled in the area of same sex parenting as the courts transition. More specifically, it is unclear whether this issue may or may not be corrected by simply adding the second parent to the children's birth certificates by signing new Affidavits of Parentage. Local courts and bar associations recommend formally establishing parentage through the Court by way of a Judgment Entry and Determination of Parentage form, as legal judgments carry more legal impact than the birth record alone.
As the legal process transitions to embrace the same sex families, it is highly recommended that same sex parents whose children were born or adopted prior to Obergefell v. Hodges file to establish parentage of the second parent in order to protect the legal rights and interests of both parents and the children. As of this update (in August 2015), the Franklin County Juvenile Court is processing these cases without the need for a formal hearing. Please contact Strench Law to help you formalize these parentage cases as soon as possible, as the legal options are far more complicated if the second parent waits until the unfortunate occurrence of divorce or death of the legal parent to establish these rights.
What about children adopted by only one parent (either when unmarried or when legally married in another state) prior to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision? When a married couple is raising children together but the children are legally the children of one spouse only, the other spouse may petition for a stepparent adoption as described above in the same fashion that any opposite sex married couple may file. Strench Law can assist you with this process to finally bring together the family you previously could not have (in the legal sense) in the state of Ohio.
Foster Parent Adoption
Foster parents provide a wonderful and generous service by providing homes to children that may not otherwise get the care they need and deserve. If a foster parent makes the decision to formalize his or her parental role on a permanent basis, foster parent adoption may allow this family to move forward as a legal parent rather than a foster parent to those children. Strench Law will help you through the paperwork, home study, and the general transition of the children into your permanent care.