In Minnesota, the process of adopting the child of one’s spouse can be straightforward, even though there are many different steps, and parties, involved in the process. Procedurally, such a step parent adoption can be complicated. On its merits, the adoption is fairly simple.

What is necessary for a step parent to adopt a child is a sincere belief that the adoption is in the child’sbest interests, and a sincere desire to assume the responsibilities of being a parent, whether the step parent remains the spouse of the child’s parent, or not. However, the noncustodial biological parent may object to the adoption. When a step parent adopts a child, they acquire the same rights as a biological parent to custody, parenting time, and property rights (including inheritance rights).

The process involves bringing a petition to adopt before the court of the county where the child and step parent are living, obtaining the formal, written consent of the biological parents of the child, and verifying that the step parent has no record of any violent crime or child maltreatment.

Obtaining the consent of the biological parent (who is not married to the step parent) can be a challenge. The biological parent’s whereabouts may not be known, or, that parent may refuse to give consent. In those cases, a step parent can ask the court to grant an adoption without the consent of the biological parent, if that parent has been absent from the child’s life and has ‘abandoned’ the child or in some cases the biological parent’s rights have been terminated in a separate court proceeding. The burden is on the step parent, though, to show that the biological parent has either consented to the adoption or that parent’s consent is not necessary.

Once all of the above steps have been followed and the adoption is finalized, the step parent will no longer be a step parent and will now have the same rights and responsibilities of a biological parent. It is now the former step parent’s responsibility to make major decisions for the child, including their medical care and education.

As stepparent adoption frequently poses serious challenges, it is important to turn to an experienced Minnesota family law attorney. At Clausen & Hassan, our lawyers pride themselves on how they serve our clients. Please reach out today for your free consultation—you can call our office at (651) 647-0087 or contact us by email at info@clausen-hassan.com.