This page details the laws that govern Step-Parent Adoptions under the Texas courts. Please call and speak with Kevin Sralla, a San Antonio family lawyer, we can also set up a free consultation to discuss your situation in person.
A step-parent adoption involves a scenario whereby a step-parent moves to adopt his/her spouse’s child that has been living with the adoptive parent for at least six months. This process could also be executed by a relative, e.g. an aunt, uncle, older sibling or grandparent, of the child to be adopted. The process starts with the filing of a petition for step-parent adoption and concurrent request for the termination of the birth parents’ parental rights. Termination can be based on a number of factors, the most common of which are a birth parent’s abandonment of the child for a lengthy period of time while expressing an intent not to return, a birth parent’s failure to support the child financially for a substantial period of time and the execution by a birth parent of an Affidavit for Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights. Termination of parental rights is a legal prerequisite for a step-parent adoption.
Once the termination process has been completed, the Court will order the preparation of a pre-adoptive home screening and post placement report (“home study”) into the circumstances, living conditions, overall home environment and fitness of the adoptive parent to take responsibility for his/her stepchild. Texas law also requires, in addition to a completed home study, a genetic history and criminal background report on the prospective parent.
After all the proper documents are approved and on file with the Court, and assuming no party has issued a legal challenge to the adoption, the Court will hear the testimony of the adoptive step-parent, his or her spouse and any other necessary party to the adoption and presumably grant the adoption.
Often times, the biological parent whose rights are subject to termination is unknown or cannot be located. In such a case, the Court will typically appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the interests of the missing party in the case. When this process in invoked, the attorney ad litem will exercise due diligence to locate the missing party for purposes of providing him/her an opportunity to object to or challenge the termination of his/her parental rights. If the attorney ad litem is unable to locate the missing party, he/she will report such findings, or a lack thereof, to the Court at final hearing.
While in other types of adoptions, the Court may appoint a guardian ad litem to safeguard the interests of the child or children involved, the Court typically will not do so in a step-parent adoption because the biological parent (spouse of the adoptive parent) is the managing conservator of the child or children and is usually deemed able to sufficiently represent the interests of his/her child or children.
My years of experience handling step-parent adoption make a tangible difference for my clients because, through experience and proven results, I have developed a manner of processing step-parent adoption cases that is effective and efficient. This is of vital importance to adoptive parents seeking to execute an adoption because any procedural misstep can cost crucial time for the client and, in some case, threaten the adoption process itself. So, contact an experienced, proven lawyer to handle your adoption in San Antonio, Texas.
Kevin “Buck” Sralla
Welcome, I am Kevin “Buck” Sralla, an experienced family law attorney in San Antonio, TX. I am licensed to practice in Texas state courts and skilled at advocating for my clients’ rights whether the setting be in a courtroom before a judge or jury or an informal mediation or settlement negotiation process.