Illinois parents who later marry or re-marry an individual who is not the biological parent of their children may wish to give their spouse a greater legal role in their children’s life. For some, this may mean that they wish for their new spouse to adopt their children. While this is a wonderful act, stepparent adoption cannot be accomplished without consent from the child’s other biological parent.

There is one exception to this consent, which is the termination of the other parent’s parental rights. This may be due to a myriad of reasons, such as neglect or abandonment. However, if his or her parental rights are still in tact, then consent is still required. If they refuse to consent, there are steps that the active parent and stepparent may take in an attempt to terminate the other parent’s rights.

Proving abandonment can be a first step. Abandonment is usually defined as no financial support communication with the child for a period of at least one year. Additionally, if the other parent is deemed to be unfit by means of abuse, incarceration or addiction among several other reasons, then it is possible to have the courts terminate their parental rights.

For some Illinois families, completing their family might mean a stepparent adoption. Parents and stepparents who choose to embark on this journey may be well advised to carefully review the legal and emotional aspects that may come in to play during such an adoption. If they choose to move forward in the best interest of the child and the family, but are unable to receive consent from the child’s biological parent, then certain circumstances may warrant going to court in an attempt to terminate the parental rights.

Source: FindLaw, “Stepparent Adoption FAQ’s“, , Aug. 30, 2014