Stepparent / Second Parent Adoption FAQs

Who can file for adoption?

In Texas, an adult who is considered the stepparent of a child may file for adoption of that child. In the adoption petition, your spouse must also be included as a party.

Where do I file for adoption?

The petition will need to be filed in the county where the child resides or where the petitioner (person seeking adoption) resides.

How do I start a stepparent adoption?

The first step is to determine what type of adoption is required. This will determine what needs to be filed and whether the other parent needs to be terminated.

What if the other parent is still alive?

When the child’s other parent is alive and there has been no previous court order terminating the parental rights of that parent to the child. In this situation, an Original Petition to Terminate Parent-Child Relationship and for Adoption will need to be filed. How difficult this process will be, will depend on whether the biological parent is willing to voluntarily relinquish their parental rights.

What if the other parent is no longer living?

If the child’s other parent is no longer living, only an Original Petition for Adoption will need to be filed. This process is much simpler than when the other parent is still alive.

What if the other parent's rights have previously been terminated?

If the other parent’s rights have previously been terminated, only an Original Petition for Adoption will need to be filed as you will not have to terminate the other parent prior to the adoption.

What if I am in a same-sex relationship and I am not the biological parent?

It is extremely important that same sex couples secure their right to parent. If you are married, it doesn’t mean the non-biological rights to parent are secured. Marriage is very different to parentage, and in Texas this is very important. Judges in conservative counties can be very skeptical of parentage when there has not been an adoption. If the biological mother dies, or the couple breaks up, that adoption can make all the difference to the non-biological parent.

Does the child have to live with me before the adoption?

Yes, the law states that a child must have lived with the petitioner for a minimum of six months before filing for adoption. However, there are instances where this may be waived when it is in the best interests of the child.

Is there anything else I must do other than file the relevant petition?

Yes, there are multiple steps when adopting a stepchild. Some of these include an adoption evaluation, criminal history check and a child custody evaluation.

Does it cost anything to file the petition?

Yes, there will be a court filing fee. In some instances, if you are indigent, the fees may be waived. Please speak to us about your situation.

Do I have to go to court to finalize the adoption?

Yes, the petitioners and the child (if over 12) must go to court for the adoption hearing.

Does the child have to consent to the adoption?

Yes, if the child is over 12 years of age, they must consent to the adoption.

Contact us to discuss what might be the right option for your situation.