Given that the bond between a stepparent and a child can be incredibly strong, it is understandable why so many people are willing and eager to legally adopt their stepchildren. In the state of Illinois, stepparent adoption proceedings occur under a number of circumstances and take several legal factors into consideration. Understanding how state family law guidelines apply to stepparent adoption cases can be helpful to families across the state and country.
According to the Madison-St. Clair Record, it is possible for stepparent adoption to occur with or without the consent of a child’s noncustodial parent. In the event that both parents agree to adoption proceedings, the process can be fairly straightforward. There are instances, however, when a person may successfully adopt his or her step child without the approval of the child’s parent. For instance, a stepparent may be eligible to adopt his or her spouse’s child if he or she can illustrate that the child’s noncustodial parent has physically abused and/or neglected the child. Similarly, stepparent adoption may be an option in cases where there is evidence to suggest that the noncustodial parent has failed to maintain responsibility for the child’s care and welfare for a predetermined amount of time.
One important aspect of stepparent adoption is that the process terminates the legal visitation rights of the noncustodial parent. Any visitation plan established for the noncustodial parent after the adoption is finalized is no longer enforceable under the law. The State of Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County adds that adoption proceedings are governed by the Illinois Adoption Act, and that the legal adoption process effectively terminates biological parental rights when it comes to child custody.