Step-parents are unique. They are individuals who make a conscious choice to unconditionally love children that they do not have to. Sometimes step-parents have the opportunity to adopt their step-children. Step-parent adoption is actually the most common type of adoption. When a step-parent in North Dakota adopts the child or children of their spouse they assume the financial and legal responsibility of the children, and in turn, the non-custodial parent is released from all parental responsibilities, including current and future child support.
According to the Uniform Law Commission’s website, North Dakota as well as Arkansas, Iowa, New Mexico, and Oklahoma are the states that enacted the Revised Uniform Adoption Act. The Revised Uniform Adoption Act is found in North Dakota Century Code Chapter 14-15. A step-parent seeking to adopt the child or children of their current spouse must file a Petition for Adoption with the Court. The Court can only grant the Petition for Adoption if the appropriate individuals consent to the adoption, which normally includes, the mother, the father, the child (if under 10 years of age), and the State of North Dakota. However, in certain circumstances, consent to adoption is not required. For example, when a child is abandoned by their parent(s), the parent(s) have relinquished their rights, or if the Court has terminated a parent’s rights to the child there is no requirement that they consent to the adoption. Following a hearing, the Court will issue an adoption decree finalizing the adoption.
While it is an extremely exciting and happy occasion, one of the happiest court proceedings we see as attorneys in Fargo, petitioning to adopt a step-child is not a decision to take lightly, and should not be undertaken without legal advice. There is a lot to consider, and a lot to understand, both about the adoption process and the effects it may have should you and your spouse divorce. If you have any questions regarding family law, which includes adoptions, prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, child custody or child support matters, guardianships or conservatorships, and of course divorces, contact our Family Law Team at 701-297-2890 or send us an email below.