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Many families wish that the absent parent’s rights were not recognized at all, and understandably so, since in most situations, the subject of the absent parent is riddled with negative feelings and past experiences with that parent.
Although this is often the case, for a Nebraska stepparent adoption to be successfully completed, the absent biological parent’s rights must be dealt with.
There are two steps that need to be taken in order to appropriately deal with the absent father’s rights: notifying the absent parent of the stepparent adoption and receiving their agreement to the stepparent adoption.
STEP ONE: NOTIFY THE ABSENT PARENT OF THE STEPPARENT ADOPTION
The Nebraska stepparent adoption process requires notifying the absent parent of the adoption. This is achieved primarily through mailing adoption papers to his/her home address. If the address cannot be located after diligent search, the notice of adoption can be placed in a newspaper in the city he/she currently resides in.
We must put in the effort to attempt to locate the absent parent’s current whereabouts and location. Simply saying “I don’t know where (s)he lives” will not suffice to satisfy the diligent search requirement.
EXCEPTION: DANGER TO THE MOTHER AND/OR THE CHILD’S LIFE
Nebraska law allows an exception to notifying the absent parent. If notifying the absent parent will endanger the mother and/or the child’s life and safety, the law allows the stepparent adoption to move forward without notifying the absent parent.
This is usually in situations where the absent parent was abusive, whether physically or emotionally, and the mother lived in constant fear for her life and the life of her child.
For this exception to apply, we must go to the court and show evidence of the abusive relationship. We must prove to the court that notifying the absent parent today will endanger the life and safety of the mother and/or the child.
*Please note that you will need to consult with an attorney about this especially if a child support order is currently in place.
STEP TWO: RECEIVE HIS/HER AGREEMENT TO THE STEPPARENT ADOPTION
The next step in the stepparent adoption process is receiving the absent parent’s agreement. If the absent parent is willing to agree to the stepparent adoption, then we simply move forward and complete it.
If the absent parent is not willing to agree to the stepparent adoption, and it can be proven in court that he/she has abandoned the child for six months to a year before the adoption papers are filed in court, then we can move forward with the stepparent adoption without his/her agreement.
Lastly, although this is oftentimes the hardest part of the stepparent adoption process, we have to remember that crappy parents still have constitutional rights, and for the stepparent adoption to be successful, these steps must be taken.