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How to Adopt Your Stepchild in Illinois

 Posted on March 12, 2024 in Family Law

Aurora family law attorneyDeciding to adopt your stepchild can be an exciting and meaningful process for your blended family. Under Illinois law, stepparent adoption allows a stepparent to become the legal parent of their spouse's child. This transfers all the rights and responsibilities of legal parenthood to the adoptive stepparent. If you are considering stepparent adoption, an Illinois lawyer can help make the process easier by knowing exactly what steps to take.

Initiating the Adoption Process

The first step is to file a petition to adopt. This petition is submitted to the court in the county where you live. You will need to include personal information about you, your spouse, and the child, as well as details on things like the following:

  • Your marriage date.
  • The length of time which you have known the child.
  • The circumstances around the child's available legal parent not having contact.

In Illinois, a stepparent can file the adoption petition independently without an attorney, though having legal guidance can be helpful.

Terminating the Non-Custodial Parent's Rights

For the court to grant a stepparent adoption, the non-custodial parent's rights must be formally terminated. There are a few potential grounds for termination in these cases:

  • Abandonment: If the non-custodial parent has failed to visit or communicate with the child for over three months, this constitutes abandonment.
  • Failure to support: If they have failed to provide any child support for over three months.
  • Unfitness: Circumstances like substance abuse problems or abuse and neglect can establish unfitness.

Suppose the non-custodial parent does not consent to giving up rights. In that case, the custodial parent filing the adoption petition will need to provide clear evidence for termination based on Illinois law.

The Adoption Hearing

An adoption hearing will be scheduled once the petition is filed and the court is satisfied that the legal grounds have been met. During this hearing, the judge will review all submitted documentation and evidence. If everything is in order, the judge formally terminates the non-custodial parent's rights. Your spouse will retain all custodial rights while you gain the parent's legal status through the adoption.

The Final Steps for Adoption

Once approved in court, the adoption decree is issued. This legally finalizes you as the child's adoptive parent. The last steps include obtaining a new birth certificate listing you and the birth parent as legal parents and changing the child's last name if desired.

While stepparent adoption brings a major legal change, your whole family should also be prepared for potential emotional aspects. Counseling resources can help birth parents, stepparents, and children adjust to this new dynamic.

Contact an Aurora, IL Family Law Attorney

With the proper preparation, stepparent adoption can bring beautiful permanency and stability to blended families under Illinois law. Reach out to a Batavia, IL family lawyer to get guidance on the process. We offer competitive rates and flexible payment plans. Call The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. at 630-409-8184 for a private consultation.

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The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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