Step Parent

What Is a Step Parent Adoption?

A step parent adoption frequently involves a woman who has remarried and has a child (or children) from a previous relationship. The same legal process is followed when the step mother of a child wishes to adopt. When there is little or no contact with the biological father, the primary father/child relationship forms between the step parent and the child. Under such circumstances, it is important to proceed with an adoption so that the step parent has legal recognition as the child’s parent. Without this legal status, the step parent may not be able to assert their rights as a parent, should the mother (father) die or become incapacitated. A step parent adoption therefore offers security to the child and family.

Termination of Birth Father's Rights in Washington

  • Consent to adopt:
    The birth father must be given notice of adoption proceedings. Ordinarily, the birth father is supportive of the adoption. A consent is presented to the birth father.  If he signs the consent, his rights are terminated and the step father may proceed with an adoption.
  • When birth father refuses to sign consent:
    If the birth father refuses to sign a consent, it is necessary to personally serve the birth father with a petition to terminate his parental rights.  If the birth father fails to respond, his rights are terminated by default and the step father may proceed with an adoption.
  • When birth father is unknown:
    If the location of the birth father or identity of the birth father is unknown, it is still possible to terminate the birth father’s rights. It is necessary to publish notice to the birth father in a newspaper.This gives the birth father notice of the proceedings and, if the birth father fails to respond, his rights are terminated by the court.

Termination of Birth Father's Rights in Idaho

  • Consent to adopt:
    The birth father may sign a consent in the presence of a judicial officer.
  • When a consent is not necessary:
    If the birth father is not married to the birth mother, and is a resident of the state of Idaho and he fails to register with the Putative Father Registry, a consent to adoption is not necessary and the adopting parent may present a certificate to the court showing that the birth father has failed to register and proceed with an adoption.
  • When personal service is necessary:
    If the birth father was married to the birth mother and refuses to sign a consent it is necessary to personally serve the birth father with a petition to terminate his parental rights.  It he fails to respond, the court will terminate rights and the adopting parent may proceed with an adoption.
  • When the birth father is unknown:
    When the birth father resides outside the state of Idaho and his identity or whereabouts are unknown the adopting parent may be required to publish notice in a newspaper to the birth father, and if the birth father fails to respond parental rights are terminated.

Pre-Placement And Post Placement Reports

  • Washington:
    In Washington, the step father must obtain a post placement report.  Note: In Spokane County if the Step Parent has not been married to the mother of the child for one year, a full pre-placement report (homestudy) is required. 
  • Idaho:
    In Idaho, no report is necessary if the adopting parent has sustained a relationship with the child in excess of one year while the child was a minor. 

Child Support

The birth father no longer owes child support once the adoption is finalized. He is still responsible, however, for any back child support incurred up to the time his parental rights are terminated by court order.

Attorney Fees

Attorney fees vary. Fixed fee and hourly rates are available.  Reduced rates are also available for families where fees are a hardship.

Costs

The cost of the home study ranges from $650.00 to $1,000 depending upon the home study provider.  A post placement report ranges from $250.00 to $500.00.  Other costs include the following:

Filing Fee: $ 260.00(WA)/ $ 166.00(ID)
Birth Certificate Fee: $ 35.00(WA)/ $ 36.00(ID)
Regular and Certified Copies: $ 35.00
Publication of Notice (if necessary): $ 250.00 - $ 800.00

Free Consultation:

If you are interested in meeting and discussing step parent adoption at no charge, please contact us.

FAQs for Step Parents

If There Is No Father on the Birth Certificate Is It Necessary to Give the Father of the Child Notice?

Yes.  Even though no one is listed as the father on a birth certificate, the father of the child must be given notice of a termination of parental rights.  At times the father is unknown.  In those cases, the birth mother provides a declaration to the Court which explains that the name and whereabouts of the birth father are unknown. Notice is then published in a newspaper to John Doe or anyone with a paternal interest.  If the birth father is known but his whereabouts are unknown after a diligent search, notice may be given to the birth father in a newspaper with general circulation in the city of the father's last known address. If the father is available to contact, he may sign a consent and voluntarily relinquish rights. If he refuses to sign a consent, he can be served with a petition to terminate his parental rights..

Can the Child's Name Be Changed as Part of the Adoption Process?

Yes.  At the time the adoption is finalized the child's name can be changed.  A new birth certificate is issued showing the adoptive parent as the father/mother of the child and reflecting the child's new name. The original birth certificate is sealed.

What Is a Post Placement Report?

In a private adoption, a person or couple hoping to adopt must complete a pre-placement report (sometimes referred to as a home study) prior to being considered as prospective adoptive parents.  A post placement report is completed after the baby has been placed in the adoptive home. In a step parent adoption where the couple has been married at least one year the pre-placement report is not required.  The step parent may adopt after completing the post placement report only.

If the Birth Father Has Not Had Contact with the Child for Several Years Can the Court Automatically Terminate Parental Rights for Abandonment?

Washington:
In Washington the answer is no.  The birth father must still be given notice and rights must be terminated either through a voluntary relinquishment or involuntary termination of parental rights.
Idaho:
Idaho is a registry state. If a birth father is not married to the birth mother and fails to register with the Putative Father registry he is not considered to be a father and his consent is not necessary.  His rights are in effect terminated.

Can the Birth Father's Rights Be Terminated Even Though There Is No one to Adopt?

No.  There must be someone to take the place of the terminated birth parent.  Rights cannot be terminated unless there is a person willing and qualified to adopt. If the parent is single, a relative may adopt the child (see Second Parent Adoption).

Is the Birth Father Responsible for Back Child Support after Parental Rights Have Been Terminated?

Yes.  Child support is no longer owed by the birth father after his rights have been terminated but back child support is still due.  Sometimes the adoptive parents agree to waive back child support owed by the birth father but it is not necessary to do so.

Free Consultation

Mark R. Iverson is available to answer any questions during a free consultation. Contact us at 509-462-3678 or 800-338-8273 or via email at mark@adoptionlegalservices.org