There are a couple different reasons why someone may need to go through the stepparent adoption process.
Jack and Jill fall in love and decide to marry. Jill has 2 kids, Marcia and Jan, from a prior marriage to Mike. Mike is out of the picture - perhaps he died or has never realized his custodial rights over the kids. Jack loves the kids and wants to adopt them. Provided that there are not issues for Mike (either he's gone or wants to terminate his rights), Jack can go through the process to adopt Marcia and Jan. After such adoption, he is fully recognized as their parent.
Another common scenario in the LGBT community
Ellen and Portia are married and decide to have a baby. They both want Portia to carry the child. Portia has a healthy baby boy named Elton and they put both their names on the birth certificate. Is that enough? Sure. Ellen’s name is on the birth certificate as that parent, so they’re done right? Not so fast.
Under Minnesota (and many other states), simply being listed on a birth certificate (even if married) does NOT establish a legal relationship between Ellen and Elton. The only way to ensure that Ellen’s parental relationship to Elton is legal recognized is for her to formally adopt Elton.
A main concern here is not so much whether Minnesota will recognize that relationship as we do have some laws that offer Ellen protection and are mostly a progressive state. But, what if Ellen travels with Elton alone? Will another state recognize her as the legal parent? What if they move to Florida and something happens to Portia? Ellen runs the risk – however small- that Elton could be taken from her in a non-supportive jurisdiction. And, based on this election, there are a lot of non-supportive jurisdictions in this country.
The Solution: A Stepparent Adoption
All states (even Florida) must recognize a valid court order from a Minnesota court. So, while such court may reject the birth certificate naming Ellen or, if the Supreme Court overturns gay marriage, Portia and Ellen’s marriage, a U.S. court CANNOT reject a valid court order from another state!
A stepparent adoption is a relatively simple, straight-forward process in Minnesota with the right guidance. Unique Estate Law is knowledgeable and experienced in handling these matters and will be at your side with understanding and advice.
To fully understand how strongly I believe you need to adopt that child just know that I legally married my wife in 2013 and our son was born in 2014. I adopted him the same as I adopted our daughter who was born in 2007 long before our marriage was legal. So, I definitely put my money where my mouth is on this issue.
Contact us now or call (952) 955-7623 to start the process of securing your legal relationship with your child!
If you do adopt, please remember to update your (or create an) estate plan to ensure that you are the one who decides the appropriate person to act as guardian for your child and/or trustee of your estate.