In addition to marrying the love of your life, you were also fortunate that a great kid was part of the deal. You are one of the lucky stepparents with a strong relationship with your spouse’s child, and that relationship has likely become an important part of your life. Undoubtedly, you have thought about the idea of adopting your stepchild, not necessarily to strengthen the bond you share, but to provide your stepchild with the legal and financial benefits of your parenthood.
As things stand, if anything unfortunate happened to your spouse, you would have no legal grounds to make decisions for the well-being of the child. However, one major roadblock stands between you and the ability to adopt your stepchild, and that is the child’s non-custodial parent. The only way to obtain the court’s approval to adopt your stepchild is for the biological parent to relinquish his or her parental rights.
Factors of influence
The courts in Wyoming are no different from those in other states in that they lean heavily in favor of biological parents retaining their rights where their children are concerned. You may have approached the child’s parent and requested permission to adopt the child. If you were met with resistance, you can be assured that your goal to adopt the child may never be reached.
There is the possibility that the parent may consider giving up rights if it means absolution from child support obligations, but if not, there are only a few factors that may sway a court to terminate parental rights, such as:
- Showing no interest in or spending little time with the child
- Neglecting child support payments
- Abandoning the other parent during pregnancy or after the child’s birth
- Missing and unable to reach
- Living in conditions that are unsafe for the child
- Maintaining a drug or alcohol dependency
- Abusing or neglecting the child
In certain conditions, if the child is old enough, the judge may ask what he or she wishes for the situation. If your stepchild unhesitatingly chooses your parenthood over the biological parent, a judge may see this as a sign to terminate the parental rights of the other parent. However, if there is any possibility that the relationship between the child and his or her biological parent will improve, the court may hesitate to sever the bond.
Terminating parental rights is a last resort. Once the courts rule in this manner, the decision is permanent. This is why, for the well-being of the child, the decision to seek to terminate the relationship between the child and the parent should be considered carefully and with as much counsel and advice as possible.