According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2018 there were an estimated 3,857,632 stepchildren in U.S. households. In North Dakota alone (only taking into account minors), the number was approximately 4,888.
While there are stories of wicked stepmothers, there are also successful instances of stepfamilies who overcome lack of blood ties to become family in the ways that truly matter. In some cases, the new relationships are strong enough that stepparents decide to adopt. There are some important facts those that fall into this category need to know about stepchild adoption in North Dakota.
1. There are cases where consent is not necessary
The state requires the living, non-custodial parent to give permission for the adoption. The exceptions are if said parent abandoned the child, had parental rights terminated, gave up the right to consent or failed to communicate or provide the support/care set by the court for a year. Judicial declaration of the parent’s incompetence or mental defectiveness is also a situation where consent is not needed. The court may also waive the biological figure’s right to grant assent if it believes it is in the best interests of the youth.
2. The process grants stepparents both responsibilities and rights
Adoption leads to the former stepparent gaining the same legal status as a biological parent. This includes the ability to make important decisions regarding the kid, as well as the right to custody and visitation and the obligation to pay child support if divorce happens.
3. There are legal consequences for the stepchild
The adoptees lose the right to automatic inheritance by law from biological relations. These relatives are still free to add them to wills.
Adopting a stepchild involves many emotional and legal ramifications. It is important to carefully consider all factors before going through with it.