Step Parent Adoption and Family

Step-parent adoption provides a way to formalize your parent-child relationship

Texas Family Law and parental rights

In Texas Family Law, the most common grounds for termination of parental rights in a step-parent adoption are:

  • Natural parent is deceased;
  • Abandonment of a child or children;
  • Failure to provide support (emotional as well as financial);
  • Imprisonment; or
  • Abuse.

To make the step-parent adoption process go as smoothly as possible under Texas Family Law, every effort should be made to gain consent of the absent parent. There many remedies that we can pursue in helping you to achieve this and to make other preparations, including achieving a court order terminating the former parent, if necessary.

Provisions in Texas Family Law

Some of the provisions outlined in Texas Family Code § 161.001 that can support a termination of the parent-child relationship, if found to be in the best interest of the child, are:

  • Some form of abandonment of the child for a specified period of time where the parent indicates he or she will not return or fails to provide support for the child;
  • Endangering the child by the parent’s actions or by the environment the parent places the child in;
  • Failure to support the child in accordance with the parent’s abilities;
  • Been a major cause in the child’s delinquency in school;
  • The parent was charged with murder of the other parent or criminal attempt or solicitation of same; or
  • Other reasons listed under section 161.001.

Under Texas Family Code § 161.002, an alleged biological father can have his rights terminated if:

  • After being served with citation, the alleged parent does not respond with timely filing of an admission of paternity or a counterclaim for paternity under Chapter 160;
  • The child is over one year of age at the time the petition for termination of the parent-child relationship or for adoption is filed, he has not registered with the paternity registry under Chapter 160, and after the exercise of due diligence by the petitioner, his identity and location are unknown or, if his identity is known, he cannot be located;
  • The child is under one year of age at the time the petition for termination of the parent-child relationship or for adoption is filed and he has not registered with the paternity registry under Chapter 160; or
  • He has registered with the paternity registry under Chapter 160, but the petitioner’s attempt to personally serve citation at the address provided to the registry and at any other address for the alleged father known by the petitioner has been unsuccessful, despite the due diligence of the petitioner.

Parenting assistance after the adoption

Many of the programs we’ve listed in our Parenting Classes Resource List offer parenting and child development classes to assist in the transition you and your new family will have to make.  DePelchin offers post-adoption services geared toward assisting parents who have adopted children in the care of Child Protective Services (CPS) and services to assist parents who have privately adopted an infant.

Other problems and issues

An adoption improperly performed might not stand up to a legal challenge. The U.S. Supreme Court in Armstrong v. Manzo, 380 U.S. 545 (1965), invalidated a termination of the biological father and the child’s adoption by the step-father after it was shown that the father was not properly noticed of the termination proceeding, which was held to have violated his due process rights.

It is very important that adoptions and terminations are properly performed to ensure that they are not subject to legal attack.  If you require assistance, please contact the Law Office of Chris A. Spofford for assistance in making sure your new family stands up to any future legal challenges.