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Step-Parent Adoption in Indiana: The Basics

Feb 1, 2021 | Adoption Tips, General, Indiana Adoption Law

Step-Parent Adoption in Indiana: The Basics


There are many reasons why a step-parent may want to adopt their stepchild.  Perhaps the child’s non-custodial biological parent has never been a significant part of the child’s life and/or never supported the child.  More often than not, the child may look to the step-parent as a mother and/or father and both want to legally formalize that relationship.  The most common reason we see is that the adopting step-parent wants to ensure that if anything happened to the biological parent spouse that the child would not be forced to leave and potentially reside with a biological parent that they have never really had a relationship with or, worse, is an unfit parent who would not be able to provide a positive and stable environment. 


Whatever the reason you are considering a step-parent adoption, it’s critical to have an experienced adoption attorney on your side that understands the legal process in Indiana.  The adopting step-parent will file a petition with the custodial parent’s duly executed and notarized consent.  If appropriate, the Petition for Adoption will allege that the consent to adoption from the non-custodial parent is not required and outline the basis for the allegation.  The most common reasons that a parent’s consent to adoption is not required is because he or she has 1) failed to maintain significant communication with the child for at least 12 months when able to do so; 2) failed to provide support for at least 12 months when able to do so; and/or 3) is an unfit parent.  If the biological parent has made only token efforts to support or communicate with the child, the court may rule that the child has been “abandoned” and find that the consent from the biological parent is not required. 


The non-custodial biological parent will then be presented with an opportunity to consent.  If the biological parent is not willing to sign a consent, he or she will be provided with notice of the adoption and have thirty days to file a motion to contest the adoption.  If a motion to contest is not timely filed, the court will find that the parent’s consent to the adoption is irrevocably implied.  If the whereabouts of the non-custodial biological parent are not known, then the notice may be served by publication after complying with the procedural trial rules.  If a motion to contest is timely filed, the Court will hold an evidentiary hearing on the above issues and most importantly whether or not the adoption is in the child’s best interests.  If the court rules in the Petitioner’s favor and other requirements are met, the decree of adoption will be entered and the biological parent’s parental rights will be terminated.  If the Petitioner has requested a name change, it will be provided for in the decree and be effective when the adoption is granted. Next, your attorney should request and obtain a copy of the child’s new birth certificate. 


If you are considering a step-parent adoption in Indiana, call attorney Nate Leach at Herrin & Leach in Indianapolis.  We have successfully handled hundreds of step-parent adoptions in Indiana.  We will help you through the step-parent adoption process and provide your family and child with the security he or she deserves. 


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Ethical & Compassionate Adoption

We work diligently to ensure a successful adoption. When done correctly, adoption offers expectant mothers, prospective parents and the child all the chance for a bright future. When you come to our office, we will take the time to answer all of your questions, explain the process and clear up any aspect of the adoption process that might be confusing.

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