If you’re getting a no-fault
divorce in Pennsylvania and you have a child with your soon-to-be ex, you may
be wondering, “If I remarry, is it possible for my new spouse to
adopt my child?” If you’re thinking about this, it’s
probably because your current spouse is a less than ideal mother or father.
Your spouse may be on-board with you about getting a
no-fault divorce, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been a good parent to your
child. Perhaps your spouse has been an absent parent and they’re
more concerned about themselves than the child you have together.
Perhaps they’re physically abusive and you’re hoping to distance
your child from them for their safety. Perhaps your spouse has a substance
abuse problem or is suffering from a severe mental illness – these
Now, you’re thinking you may remarry someone better one day and when
that time comes, you’re hoping your new partner will gladly adopt
your child and provide a loving, stable parent-child relationship. The
question is, how do you accomplish a stepparent adoption?
How Stepparent Adoptions Work
Stepparent adoptions can be wonderful, but the courts do not strip a mother
or father of their parental rights easily. Usually, one of two things
have to occur before a stepparent can legally adopt their stepchild: 1)
the other parent has to voluntarily waive or “relinquish”
their parental rights, or 2) a court has to order an involuntary termination.
If your former spouse agrees to terminate their parental rights so your
new spouse can adopt your child, the process should be painless. But,
if you cannot locate your former spouse, or if they refuse to terminate
their parental rights, you’ll need to convince the court that terminating
their parental rights is in your child’s best interests. Courts
usually only do this when someone, such as a stepparent, is willing to
step in and adopt the child.
Some of the grounds for involuntary termination include:
- For at least six months, the parent has refused to perform their duties
as a parent.
- Child abuse, neglect, continued incapacity to parent, or the refusal to
care for the child has caused the child to be without critical food, control,
or parental care necessary for the child’s physical and emotional
A man is the presumptive
father, but he is not the child’s biological father.
To learn more about involuntary termination of parental rights,
While most divorcing mothers and fathers earnestly strive to stay active
in their children’s lives after the marriage is terminated, we cannot
ignore the fact that some former spouses disappear from their children’s
lives. In these situations, sometimes a stepparent adoption is in the
child’s best interests.