Updated: Jun 24, 2020
It’s truly heartwarming to see stepparents who step up and raise children who are not their biological children. In the state of Nebraska, you do not always need to seek out an agreement from the absent biological parent for adoption. Largely depending on the absent parent’s relationship with the child, you might be able to move forward with the adoption process without the absent parent’s approval. Not all situations are the same, but these three common scenarios might shed some light on yours:
Scenario #1: The biological father is not listed on the birth certificate
The father wasn’t present at the child’s birth, and so the father’s name is not listed on the birth certificate. In subsequent months, the father made little or no effort to visit the child.
In this example, since the biological father isn’t listed on the certificate, Nebraska law gives him the least protection available because he’s not legally recognized as the father. To move forward with the adoption process, a letter will be sent to the father’s address and he is given five business days to contact the Department of Health and Human Services. The father must call to confirm his intentions, whether it’s to approve or to oppose the adoption.
If he does not respond, his rights are no longer recognized and you can proceed with the adoption process without his agreement. If the father does choose to oppose, he will have to take a series of steps to stop the adoption process.
Scenario #2: The biological father is listed on the birth certificate and has a child support order
The father was present for the child’s birth, and his name is on the child’s birth certificate. The father was semi-present for a part of the child’s life but eventually left. The mother sought child support from the biological father and received it.
Because the biological father paid child support, Nebraska law affords the absent father a little more protection than the absent father in the first example. To move forward with the adoption process, a letter will be sent to the father asking him to approve or oppose the stepparent adoption. If the father does not approve of the adoption, you may still oppose his decision.
If it can be proven that the father has abandoned the child for at least six months, the adoption process can move forward without his agreement.
Scenario #3: The biological parents were married, but then got divorced
Both of the biological parents were married and present for the child’s upbringing. The mother and father got divorced, the mother remarried, and the stepfather wants to adopt the child.
This is the scenario in which the biological father has the most protection. Due to the marriage, Nebraska law fully recognizes the father and his rights. In this instance, the father must be notified of the adoption and agree to it. However, if the father hasn’t been in contact or has not tried to communicate with the child in at least six months, then you may move forward without his agreement.
Nebraska law takes many factors into account with stepparent adoptions, and awareness of the correct legal procedures is a great first step. If you’d like to explore stepparent adoption in more detail, then click here to schedule a call!