When someone marries a person who is already a parent and a relationship is established with the child that person often considers adopting the child. This is known as step parent adoption.

In Wisconsin a step-parent adoption involves two steps:

  1. Terminating the parental rights of the natural parent
  2. Having the Step-Parent become the legal parent

Termination of parental rights is always easier if the child’s natural parent is absent or agrees, but step parent adoptions can occur even if both biological parents do not consent. If there are legal grounds to terminate parental rights, it is possible to litigate those issues on behalf of a client who believes that adoption by a step parent would be in the child’s best interests.

In Wisconsin, step parents must be married to a child’s other natural parent for at least six months before a petition can be filed for adoption.

Once a step parent adopts a child, he or she becomes the legal parent of the child and gainsall of the rights and responsibilities that entails. This means if the child’s biological parent dies, custody automatically passes to the adoptive step parent. The adoptive parent assumes all responsibility for providing for the child as required under the law and would be considered a full legal parent for purposes of making medical decisions for the child and completing financial aid applications for school. The adoptive parent also gains the right to visitation and custody in the event he or she and the child’s biological parent divorce.

For more information about step parent adoption or to speak to someone about your situation, contact Lori Kornblum at 414-331-3165 or email her at lorikornblum.law@gmail.com.