More and more Americans live in non-traditional families. According to research from The Step Family Foundation, approximately half of U.S. families are either “re-married” or “re-coupled”. Currently, an estimated 30 million children under the age of 13 live with a stepparent.
Parents in ‘blended’ families face a number of unique challenges. One especially difficult issue that a stepparent may be forced to deal with asks: what happens if the child’s biological parent tragically passed away? Who will get child custody? Can a widowed stepparent legally adopt a stepchild in Illinois?
The Big Question — Will Anyone Object to the Adoption?
In Illinois, the stepchild adoption process can be somewhat easier than the normal adoption process. In fact, when certain criteria are met, a stepparent could be able to get a streamlined adoption. In other words, stepparents may be able to avoid going through the ordinary background checks, investigations, and home visits from state officials. To be eligible for a stepparent adoption in Illinois, the following three requirements must be satisfied:
1. The stepparent must be married/have been married to the child’s biological parent;
2. The child — if they are 14 or older — must not object to the adoption; and
3. The child’s other biological parent must be willing to terminate their own parental rights or must have already had their parental rights terminated.
For widowed stepparents, the third factor is a key point: if the child’s other parent is not going to object to the adoption or if they have no right to object to the adoption, the process will be far simpler. If the child’s other parent does object to the stepparent adoption, it is likely that the case will need to go to court. Though, in this situation, a stepparent is not necessarily out of luck.
How Our Adoption Lawyers Can Help
Our Illinois adoption attorneys are strong advocates for our clients. If you are a widowed stepparent, we are prepared to help you navigate the adoption process so that you can establish parental rights and protect your family. If you were never officially married to your deceased partner, your stepchild’s other parent biological parent is planning to challenge the adoption, or if you cannot locate your stepchild’s other parent at all, it is crucial that you seek professional legal support. Stepchild adoptions must always be handled on a case-by-case basis. We will conduct a careful review of your case and determine what action needs to be taken to protect your interests.
Speak to an Illinois Adoption Attorney Today
At Keller Legal Services, our top-rated Illinois family lawyers have the skills and experience needed to handle the full range of adoption cases. If you are a widow and you are preparing to adopt your stepchild, we are here to help. To set up a free initial consultation, please contact our law firm today. With an office location in Naperville and an office location in Aurora, we serve communities throughout Northern Illinois.