Adopting a stepchild? Know about termination of parental rights

Making the decision to adopt a stepchild is one of the greatest things a stepparent can do. And while it may be an easy decision based on the parent-child relationship that has been built, the legal process can be more complicated.

This is particularly true when it comes to terminating a biological parent's rights so that you can adopt. Below, we look at the two ways a parent's rights can be terminated, as well as what you can do as the adoptive parent to make the process a little easier.

Voluntary termination

In the best-case scenarios, a biological parent gives his or her consent to the termination of parental rights. People who do this often have no meaningful relationship with a child, and the only thing connecting them is a child support obligation, which a person may be more than happy to give up.

Under these circumstances, that biological parent only needs to provide written consent to the termination of his or her parental rights. 

Termination of parental rights by the courts

Tennessee courts can also terminate the rights of a biological parent when doing so is in the best interests of the child and there are certain conditions in place. These include abandonment, neglect, abuse, failure to pay childcare expenses without good cause, failure to seek visitation and risks to a child's safety and welfare.

If the other parent does not consent to termination of rights, you can bring the matter to court and seek termination based on these or other conditions.

Making this process easier

As you navigate this process as a stepparent, keep in mind that you can do a few things to make this a little easier. First, don't drag the process out, as this can make it more painful for everyone.

Additionally, understand that giving up parental rights can be upsetting and very difficult. Approach the situation with sensitivity, but also stay focused on what is best for the child.

Finally, it can be wise to have the guidance and support of an attorney familiar with stepparent adoption in Tennessee. With the help of someone who has been through this process before, you can avoid costly missteps and have an easier time seeking the desired resolution.

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