The Challenges of Stepchild Adoption in Missouri

Healthy parent-child relationships are built and sustained by love and familial bonds. It’s a rewarding and emotional experience when a stepparent is successfully able to adopt their stepchild. Unfortunately, it takes more than love to legally adopt a stepchild in Missouri.  

The Process

You must be legally married to the custodial parent for at least 6 months before you can file a petition to adopt your stepchild. If the child is over the age of 14, you must also provide the child’s written consent.

This petition can be filed in a county:

  • Where either of the biological parents reside
  • Where the child was born
  • Where the child is currently living

The most difficult part of the adoption process is getting the other parent to permanently terminate their parental rights. Missouri law favors the rights of biological parents, so the adoption process may not proceed if the other parent refuses to sign the termination waiver. However, there are exceptions where the consent of the biological parent is not required.

These exceptions include, but are not limited to:

  • The biological parent’s identity is unknown
  • The biological parent has been served, but fails to respond to the notice
  • The biological parent neglects the child and fails to provide proper care or shelter
  • The biological parent has abandoned the child for at least 6 months

If the adoption is allowed to proceed, the court will assign a guardian ad litem to legally represent your stepchild. The guardian ad litem will conduct interviews and complete a thorough home investigation to determine if the adoption is in the child’s best interest. A presiding Judge will review this assessment during your court hearing. Your adoption is authorized as soon as the Judge signs the Judgment and Decree.

We Can Help You

Legal representation is important in a stepchild adoption case. If you would like more information about stepchild adoption, contact the family law attorneys at Smith Law Offices, LLC. We have over 50 years of combined legal experience and are knowledgeable about Missouri adoption laws.

Contact Smith Law Offices, LLC at (636) 400-1177 to schedule a consultation with our family lawyers.

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