A popular scene in film dramas (and the occasional comedy) is where one parent might say to an ex-spouse “[New spouse] is going to adopt our child, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” And then there is a set of events that occur to stop the court deadline and restore friendly relations for everyone.
But in real life, family law cases are usually not that simple, and far too often, friendly relations are long gone.
Overall, stepparent adoption in Illinois is not that complicated. Generally, there are 3 main steps: 1) file a petition jointly with the parent/spouse, 2) get consent from the other parent or show why it is not needed, and 3) get an adoption judgment. Of course, this does not factor in the preparation, patience, proof, and post-judgment follow-up in the case.
Additionally, the key hurdle tends to be getting consent from the other parent. Going back to the movie example, the idea that nothing can be done is usually false, as the Supreme Court has held that parental rights cannot be terminated lightly. If consent can be acquired, the case may move smoothly, but if the other parent contests the adoption or cannot be located, the number of legal hurdles increases.
On the other hand, if the other parent has failed to provide for the child in any manner, or failed to perform his/her statutory duties as a parent, he/she may have already surrendered the right to contest the adoption, but these scenarios involve specific factors that must be explored case-by-case.
If you wish to adopt a stepchild, or to contest the adoption of your child, the first logical step is usually to contact a lawyer who can determine the best strategy in your case.
DISCLAIMER: Please do not prepare your own documents / filings after reading this blog, without consulting an attorney first about your specific situation. I make no representations or guarantees here as to the applicability of any claim in your specific situation. This blog is ADVERTISING MATERIAL only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice, especially if you are not an Illinois resident. Please contact me if you have a legal question or concern, as no attorney-client agreement will exist between myself and any readers of this blog unless it is signed in writing.