Stepparent Adoptions

GuardianshipIn most adoption cases, a child is adopted because their birth parent has already lost parental rights. The birth parents may be deceased, may have lost their children to foster care or may have surrendered their child for adoption.

In stepparent adoptions, the situation can be more complicated. Stepparent adoptions happen when someone marries a new partner and wants to adopt their new partner’s child — a child fathered or mothered by someone else. In some cases, the child’s other parent may still be living or their whereabouts may be unknown. In other cases, the parent may be deceased.

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Stepparent adoption offers benefits: It can make your new family a full family, allowing you to make the same parental decisions for your stepparent as you would for your biological child. The adoption can make a stepchild feel more included in the family and in some cases assist with estate planning. The process can even mean everyone in your family has the same last name.

Stepparent Adoption Laws in Delaware


Delaware law has strict adoption rules for stepparents. If the stepchild’s parent has not surrendered parental rights, you’ll generally need the name and residence information for any biological father or presumed father and the biological mother. If one or both biological parents are no longer alive, you will need to submit death certificates to prove they have passed away.

The petition for adoption will also need to include the mother's marital status when the child was born and conceived. If the biological mother was not married to the biological father at the time of conception and birth, further information about the biological father must be submitted.

This may include the address of the father or a statement that the mother either does not know or will not disclose the name of the biological father or does not have any address for him. In some cases, paternity blood testing may need to be submitted with stepparent adoptions in Delaware.

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In addition to the above, the permission of the biological parents will usually need to be granted. If the child is above the age of fourteen, they will need to give consent. In addition, courts will carefully consider what is in the best interests of the child, so adoptive parents may need to show a stepparent adoption will be beneficial to the child.

Working With a Stepparent Adoption Attorney in Delaware

If you and your spouse are considering adoption of a stepchild, you’ll want to work with a stepparent adoption lawyer in Delaware. A lawyer can be beneficial to the process in a number of ways:

  • They can explain any complex adoption laws.
  • They can show in court why an adoption would be in the best interests of the child.
  • They can file the correct paperwork to make the adoption legal.
  • They can attend the court hearing with you.
  • They can prepare you and your family for court.
  • They can help you comply with all court requirements.
  • They can address any contest of the adoption.

While in many cases a stepparent adoption is simply a time of celebration or a time when a family comes together, issues can arise. You don’t want anyone to contest the adoption and you don’t want to realize years later that the adoption process was not completed correctly, potentially causing estate planning or inheritance issues.

Alimony Attorneys DelawareIf you’re considering adopting a stepchild, contact the family law attorneys at Rahaim & Saints. Our team is focused on you and your family, and on providing the best service and legal support possible.

If you think you need adoption help, contact Rahaim & Saints for a consultation. We can review your situation and advise you about your adoption petition.