When most people picture adoption, they imagine new parents meeting and getting to know kids for the first time. In reality, however, many adults are strongly bonded to the children in their lives long before they undergo the adoption process. Making such relationships official can provide a greater sense of stability while also granting a variety of legal rights and responsibilities.

Legal Implications of Stepparent Adoption

When a stepparent adopts a child, the legal relationship between that child and the birth parent married to the prospective stepparent remains intact. The non-petitioning parent, however, will no longer hold rights to child custody or any obligation to pay child support — unless stipulated otherwise in a legal agreement accompanying the adoption.

Upon the adoption’s finalization, the stepparent officially becomes a legal parent to the child in question. This means that he or she assumes all rights and responsibilities granted to the birth parent.

Consent of the Non-Petitioning Parent

Before children can be adopted, the non-petitioning parent must provide written consent. If the child in question is over the age of 13, he or she must also consent to the adoption in writing.

In select cases, stepparent adoption may be possible even without the non-petitioning parent’s consent — but only if the court has already terminated that parent’s rights. If, however, a parent who still holds rights to his or her children refuses the adoption, the process will prove far more complicated. In such situations, the assistance of a lawyer is nearly always required.

Interested in pursuing adoption as a stepparent? This process can be both exciting and stressful, but you’ll quickly find that it helps to have a trusted family law attorney in your corner. Contact the Brown Law Offices today to learn more about the adoption process.

Photo of Cynthia Brown Cynthia Brown

Cynthia Brown is a founding partner with the Brown Law Offices, P.A. She is an honors graduate of the University of South Dakota and William Mitchell College of Law. Cynthia was admitted to practice in 1998.

After graduating from law school, Cynthia served…

Cynthia Brown is a founding partner with the Brown Law Offices, P.A. She is an honors graduate of the University of South Dakota and William Mitchell College of Law. Cynthia was admitted to practice in 1998.

After graduating from law school, Cynthia served as the law clerk to the Honorable Timothy R. Bloomquist, retired Chief Judge of Minnesota’s Tenth Judicial District. Upon completing her clerkship, Cynthia practiced with a well-known firm in Cambridge, Minnesota. She founded the Brown Law Offices, P.A. in 2003.

Cynthia has handled a wide variety of family law matters throughout the Twin Cities, and greater Minnesota, including divorce, custody, child protective services, orders for protection and harassment restraining orders. Many of her clients have also asked her to provide guidance concerning their estate planning needs.

Early in her career, Cynthia served as a prosecutor, public defender and criminal investigator. In addition to her family practice, Cynthia routinely represents clients facing criminal charges such as DWI, assault, theft and criminal sexual misconduct.

Cynthia founded the Amigos de Guatemala Foundation in 2007. She is a former Board Member and President of the Foundation, which provided educational, health and financial resources to underprivileged Guatemalan citizens. Her interest in serving the impoverished began with a medical mission trip to Honduras in 1994.

When she is not practicing law, Cynthia enjoys scrap-booking, soap-making, ATV riding and spending time with family.


Areas of Practice
  • Divorce
  • Custody
  • Child Protective Services
  • Restraining Orders
  • Criminal Defense
  • Estate Planning
Bar Admission
  • Minnesota State Bar, 1998
Education
  • William Mitchell College of Law, 1998
  • University of South Dakota, 1995
Joined Firm
  • 2003
Professional Associations & Activities
  • Minnesota State Bar Association
  • Presenter, Various CLE Courses
  • Panel Attorney, Anoka County County Family Law Clinic
  • Monthly Columnist, Minnesota Lawyer Newspaper
  • Author, Family Law Forum
  • Author, Divorce Magazine