FAQ #1 - What about the other parent?
If you want your spouse to adopt your child from a prior relationship, the rights of the child's other parent need to be terminated. This can be done voluntarily if the other parent consents (cheaper and easier) or, under some circumstances, involuntarily if the other parent has failed to meet parental obligations. Sometimes, having a third party like an attorney approach the other parent to discuss the possibility of an adoption works better than initiating the conversation yourself, especially if you do not have a good working relationship with the other parent. That is what we do, and if you want to talk over your situation with us, initial consultations are always free.
FAQ #2 What about child support?
When a stepparent adopts the child of his or her spouse, the rights and obligations of the child's other parent end. The other parent's obligation to pay current child support ends when the decree of adoption is entered. If the Office of Support Enforcement is collecting child support, they need to be notified when the adoption is final so that they will stop collecting current support. Notifying Support Enforcement is part of what we do when we handle a stepparent adoption.
Unlike current support, back (or past due) support is not automatically affected by a stepparent adoption, so if Support Enforcement has been collecting support, they are likely to continue collecting back support even after the adoption is final. Without a current support obligation, however, the back support can be paid off much more quickly than before. Also, sometimes parents can enter into agreements about the collection of back support, as long as the back support is owed to the parent and not to the state.
It is also worth noting that a stepparent who adopts a stepchild takes over financial responsibility for that child, and will be responsible for child support in the event of a future divorce.