CAN MY HUSBAND/WIFE ADOPT MY CHILD?
In Illinois, stepparent adoptions usually occur in the following scenarios:
1. Legal, Non-custodial birth parent is nowhere to be found.
If their whereabouts are truly unknown, notice may be given by publication and if he/she fails to respond their parental rights may be terminated by default.
2. Legal, Non-custodial birth parent is willing to consent to the adoption.
An appointment is made to have their consents taken in court.
3. Legal, Non-custodial birth parent will not agree to adopt but will not contest the adoption.
The birth parent can be served with papers and if he/she does not respond to the papers, after 30 days, he/she would be defaulted (their parental rights would be terminated by default) and the adoption finalized. In order to do this we must allege that they are an unfit parent. We would need to allege a ground for unfitness. One of the most common grounds is the "failure to maintain a reasonable degree of interest" in the child.
4. Legal, Non-custodial birth parent has not visited child and/or paid child support for child for a period of time (through no fault of custodial parent) and they are refusing to consent to adoption.
In order to terminate a parent's parental rights we would need to choose a ground for unfitness, the three most common grounds are:
failure to maintain a reasonable degree of interest in the child;
failure to visit the child for more than 12 months;
failure to pay child support;
The odds of prevailing will depend on your specific situation and facts. You may be able to prevail but, if the birth parent contests, you would have to have a hearing. You should consult an adoption attorney regarding your specific situation.
5. Birth mother was not married to the birth father, birth father has not paid child support, is not on birth certificate, and there is no finding of paternity.
In these cases we would check the Illinois Putative Father Registry to see if the birth father has registered. If not, we may be able to terminate based on his failure to register.
Seek ADVICE to Review your Specific Situation
These are some generic examples of stepparent adoptions. You should seek the advice of a reputable adoption attorney to review your specific situation. There are many cases that might not fit neatly into any one category and/or, based on the facts, may require that additional steps be taken.
What happens to CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS once an adoption is complete?
Upon terminating a parent's parental rights, any obligation for them to pay future child support would end, however any child support money that is owed in arrears remains. After an adoption is complete, if there is a child support order in place, that court should be notified to stop the collection of future child support.
How much does it COST to do a Stepparent Adoption?
The answer depends on where you file your Petition for Adoption. With the new Illinois law you can file in any court in Illinois and do not HAVE to file in the county where you live. In fact, filing in an alternative county could save you a significant amount of money. I encourage you to talk to adoption attorneys who are familiar with the adoption procedures of different counties to figure out which county makes the most sense for you.