Updated: Jun 15
Stepparent adoption is the most common form of adoption, and for good reason too. We’re fortunate enough to live in a country where we can support and love whomever we want. But there are also many benefits to solidifying your legal relationship with your stepchild.
The importance of adopting your stepchild
For starters, the action of parenting and commitment has already been taking place long before adoption. So giving equal status to all kids living in a household is making legal what’s already a reality.
Adopting can also be a matter of protection if something happens to your spouse. Unless you adopt, as a stepparent you have no legal relationship with your stepchild. If the child's biological mother is no longer alive or is unable to make decisions for the child, your stepchild may be sent to live with a biological relative he/she has never met before.
Now, when it comes to adopting your stepchild in the state of Nebraska, there are some requirements that need to be met before you start the process. Fortunately, they are fairly simple and are as follows:
Step 1. Married to your spouse for 6 months
You must be married to your spouse for at least 6 months before beginning the adoption process in Nebraska. While this is not a legal requirement, it is a preference that the courts have when it comes to stepparent adoptions. That means that even if you are dating or engaged, you cannot start the process until you have been married for 6 months.
Step 2. The child must have lived with the stepparent for 6 months
It is a legal requirement that the child has lived with the stepparent for at least 6 months. Since a stepparent adoption terminates one biological parent’s rights and puts someone else in that place, the law wants to ensure that the person filling this place has a caring relationship with the child and wants the child to be their legal parent.
Step 3. The absent biological parent must be notified about the adoption
We know that notifying the absent biological parent of the adoption is often times the scariest part of the process. Unfortunately, this is required by law and cannot be skipped.
Notifying the other parent usually includes mailing them a notice to their address. If they cannot be located after a diligent search, a notice can also be served in a newspaper in the city where they currently reside or in the city where they were last known to currently reside.
Step 4. The absent biological parent usually must agree to the adoption
While this step can get complicated, in a nutshell, the absent biological parent must usually agree to the stepparent adoption, unless an exception applies to him/her, such as legal abandonment.
If the absent parent will not agree to the adoption, the biggest exception to needing their agreement is if you can prove that he/she has abandoned the child for 6 months before the adoption is filed with the court. If you can prove this, typically, the stepparent adoption can move forward without his or her agreement.
If you’ve already met the requirements of steps 1 and 2, and you’d like to begin the adoption process, then the next step is to talk to an adoption attorney about the next phase of this exciting journey for your family. Click here to schedule a call!