When you and your partner decided to get married, you made a promise to join your two families together. In terms of symbolism, this means that your partner's children are now your own, as you are their step-parent. However, in the legal realm, simply being the spouse of the biological parent does not automatically give you the title of parent and all the rights that come along with it.
What Step-Parents Can't Do
Here are just some of the legal hurdles you may face when you're a step-parent.
As a step-parent, you might not have much leverage when it comes to the medical care the child receives. Should the child face an emergency and need surgery or other treatment and their biological parent is not present, you may face a hurdle. Some medical facilities will have to wait until they receive consent from a biological parent before they can proceed, legally. In addition to emergency situations, a stepparent might also run into trouble when taking the child to routine dental and medical appointments.
Step-parents might also experience difficulties when it comes to traveling freely when their biological parent will not also be making the trip. This is especially the case if you are hoping to enjoy international travel with the child. You may be able to get consent and authorization to travel from your spouse. However, in some instances, you might be prohibited from taking the child out of the country at all, especially if the child's other parent has some objection.
Earn Rights with Adoption
You can earn these and other rights by adopting the children of your spouse. When you adopt a child, you gain full legal rights, basically eliminating these legal hurdles going forward, making things easier and more seamless for the entire family.
Generally, as a step parent, your spouse must give consent for the adoption and the child's other biological parent must be deceased, have terminated their parental right, abandoned the child or gave their consent as well before the adoption can progress forward. In addition to the legal meaning behind the adoption process, this can help bring you and your family even closer.
When it comes to adoption, this is a conversation that you should be having with your spouse, along with the child (if they are of age). Ensure this is something that the entire family is on board with. To learn more, contact a law firm like Law Offices of Lynda Latta, LLC.