"Blended families" are becoming more common in Colorado. This is a term used to describe families that consist of one parent who has a child from a previous relationship and is living with the new partner of the custodial parent. In most cases, the new partner, who is not biologically related to the child, will act as another parent and treat the stepchild as their own. Although such family settings may be advantageous for the custodial parent and the child involved, potential legal consequences may arise.
Stepparents have no legal rights and obligations to a child, which could create future setbacks. However, they can obtain parental rights and obligations through stepparent adoption. In fact, many American parents are familiar with stepparent adoption. According to ChildWelfare.gov, adopting a stepchild is the most common type of adoption in the U.S.
However, stepparent adoption is not as easy as it may seem. There are requirements that should be met and the whole process should be in accordance with the adoption laws of the state. Stepparent adoption is associated with legal issues that can impact both the adopting parent and child. And, although there are states that make stepparent adoption easier, there are those which set strict requirements. For instance, some states will only approve the stepparent adoption form if the biological parent and stepparent are married, and living with the child for a year or longer.
Adopting a child means severing the child's biological ties to the non-custodial parent, which sometimes causes conflicts between both parties. Under such circumstances, a stepparent needs consent from both the custodial and non-custodial parent. An agreement should specify and explain the potential impact of the adoption on the non-custodial parent's rights and obligation towards the child. Giving consent to the stepparent adoption means the non-custodial parent is giving up all rights and obligation to the child, including child support and visitation.
Source: Child Welfare, "Stepparent Adoption," Accessed on Nov. 19, 2014