When a Texas resident with a child from a previous relationship gets married to someone other than the child's biological parent, the marriage does not create a relationship between the child and his or her stepparent that is recognized by law. This means that although the spouse may be caring and providing for their stepchild in every way imaginable, legally this would mean nothing. In these situations, the biological parent would have to give their spouse written consent for mundane daily activities such as picking up the child from school or getting medical care for them. One way to avoid this and create a legal relationship between the spouse and stepchild is through stepchild adoption.
Couples in a long-term relationship may prefer this, as it provides the child with stability and the comfort of knowing that they will be taken care of in the long run by their parents. Stepparent adoption allows the child to inherit from both parents, and it allows the stepparent to make decisions about the child's upbringing. In short, stepchild adoption allows a stepparent to play a legally recognized role in the child's life.
However, a child cannot have three legal parents, which means a precursor to stepparent adoption is for the other biological parent (usually the noncustodial parent) to give up their parental rights. Terminating one's parental rights means that parent will no longer have any legal relationship with the child. This puts an end to rights and responsibilities such as child support. State laws differ on how to obtain consent and in which situations consent is needed. In some instances, like if a child has been abandoned, then consent may not be necessary.
However, it is essential to know what situation needs consent, as an adoption can be revoked or overturned if the proper procedure is not followed. This can be emotionally devastating for all parties involved, which is why it should be avoided. It may therefore be beneficial to go through the legal requirements with an experienced attorney. Though the decision to give up parental rights or adopt a stepchild may be difficult, at the end of the day the major consideration of all parties should be the best interests of the child and how to support them.