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Is adoption of an stepchild child important?

Is it really worth the time, effort and expense for a stepfather or stepmother to adopt a teenager or adult child?

Absolutely.

While the major fights about custody tend to occur during a child's "tender" years when parents are still building important attachments to their young children and want to be the major influence in the way that child thinks, behaves and generally approaches the world -- teens and adults could often benefit from stepparent adoption. The stepparent may also benefit as well.

Adoption confers the same legal status on a teen or adult stepchild that's held by any natural children. That's important to understand because it has much more than just an emotional effect on the participants:

  • By giving the stepchild equal legal status with any biological children, it automatically ends issues regarding inheritance rights if the stepparent happens to be wealthy or there's a large inheritance to be shared.
  • If the child is still a teenager, you run the risk of losing custody of him or her if the natural parent dies. A relative with a biological relationship can often exert his or her superior legal position and take custody -- even if you've been there since that teen was in diapers.
  • You could even be barred from visitation if something like that happens.
  • Eventually, the adopting parent is going to age and a child is most likely to become his or her caretaker and possible legal guardian. If you want your stepchild to have any legal right to a say-so in your care as you age, the relationship has to be formalized. Otherwise, he or she could end up being treated like a stranger by hospital or nursing home administrators -- especially if a biological child exerts his or her legal standing.

The good news about stepparent adoption is that it is often less expensive and less difficult than regular adoptions. For more information about the specific process and how it would work for your family, talk to a family law attorney today.

Source: FindLaw, "Nebraska Adoption Laws," accessed Sep. 14, 2017

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