The 6 Steps of How to Adopt a Stepchild in Pennsylvania

If you’re considering a stepparent adoption in Pennsylvania, one of your first questions is likely, “How does a stepparent adoption work?”

The process of how to legally adopt a stepchild is often a straightforward one — but it’s also one that requires the assistance of an experienced adoption attorney to be completed legally and efficiently. A stepparent adoption brings many benefits to both stepparents and stepchildren, which is why those looking into this stepparent adoption process should understand what is legally involved before beginning.

The adoption attorney at The Law Offices of Denise M. Bierly can provide all of the necessary services for adopting a stepchild in Pennsylvania. Your legal counselor will guide you through the steps to adopting a stepchild and explain how to file for stepparent adoption with our legal help.

When you first contact our adoption law firm, our attorney will explain how the stepparent adoption process will work in your situation. Each adoption is unique, but there are some general steps most stepparent adoption processes follow, which you can read about below.

  1. Contact The Law Offices of Denise M. Bierly to start the stepparent adoption process in Pennsylvania.

While a stepparent adoption can be a straightforward legal proceeding, all stepparents should go through this process with the assistance of an experienced attorney like those at The Law Offices of Denise M. Bierly. There are many details that may affect the process of adopting a stepchild in Pennsylvania, and without the proper legal guidance, the necessary legal steps can become complicated.

Working with an experienced stepparent adoption attorney is the first step to successfully and legally adopting a stepchild. To learn more about what services The Law Offices of Denise M. Bierly can offer you during your stepparent adoption process, please call our attorney at 814-237-7900.

  1. Gather necessary paperwork and parental consents.

Like with all adoption processes, documentation is an important part of how to legally adopt a stepchild in Pennsylvania. This documentation is instrumental in proving a relationship between a stepparent and a stepchild and that a stepparent is truly ready to take on the responsibilities of adopting their stepchild. A stepparent adoption in Pennsylvania does not require an adoption home study or any post-placement visits.

However, another important part of the step-parent adoption process is obtaining adoption consents from the child’s other legal parent. A child cannot have three legal parents, so while the spouse of the stepparent will retain their parental rights, a stepparent adoption must terminate the rights of the child’s noncustodial parent to be finalized. Your adoption attorney will work with you to complete this step, by either obtaining the noncustodial parent’s consent or determining whether the parent’s consent is not needed to proceed.

This crucial step in how to adopt a stepchild is a major reason why an experienced adoption attorney is necessary to complete this kind of adoption process. In case of a contested adoption, the attorney at The Law Offices of Denise M. Bierly will file a petition to involuntarily terminate parental rights and move forward with your stepparent adoption.

  1. Submit a stepparent adoption petition to your local court.

After the proper legal documentation has been gathered, your adoption attorney will submit a stepparent adoption petition to the appropriate court. An adopting stepparent will need to fill out certain documentation for this petition, and your adoption attorney will guide you through this process. 

  1. Attend any necessary preliminary hearings.

Once the petition is filed, your local court and your adoption attorney will work together to schedule any necessary hearings. All stepparent adoption processes require a finalization hearing, but certain adoptions may require an additional preliminary hearing, as well. This hearing will be used to confirm certain details, gather the consent of the child if they’re older than 12, and is followed by the finalization hearing after a certain amount of time. In most stepparent adoption cases, this preliminary hearing is waived. 

  1. Finalize the adoption.

The final step in how to adopt a stepchild is the finalization hearing, which you may or may not need to attend. If there was no preliminary hearing, a judge will ask certain questions about the adoption and the child will give their consent to be adopted, if applicable. After the appropriate legal processes are followed, an adoption certificate will be issued listing the stepparent as the legal parent of the child. Families who work with The Law Offices of Denise M. Bierly typically achieve finalization within 60–90 days of starting the stepparent adoption process, and their adoption attorney will accompany them to the finalization hearing. 

  1. Apply for a new birth certificate.

After an adoption certificate is issued, stepparents can apply for a new birth certificate for the child, if desired. The Law Offices of Denise M. Bierly can help you obtain this document, which can change the child’s name and list the stepparent as his or her parent.

How to legally adopt a stepchild in Pennsylvania can be a straightforward, cost-effective adoption process when working with an experienced adoption attorney from the beginning. The Law Offices of Denise M. Bierly can handle all of the legal steps needed and provide legal case management throughout your stepparent adoption process. When you work with our legal professionals, you will safely and efficiently unite your family and provide legal security for your existing family relationship.

If you’re considering adopting a stepchild in Pennsylvania, no matter your personal situation, we encourage you to contact our legal professionals today at 814-237-7900.

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