While you and your current spouse recently legally married, you may not be the legal parent of your new spouse’s children. You feel ready to adopt your stepchildren, but what do you know about doing so?

Parents.com offers several points to keep in mind. Make sure you go about becoming the legal guardian of your spouse’s children the right way.

State laws

One of the first (and most important) things to do is to explore the most current state laws. For instance, in some states, the child’s biological parent and the stepparent must be married for at least a year for the adoption to go through.

Consent 

You must get the noncustodial parent’s consent to adopt her or his child. That means the noncustodial parent gives up all parental responsibilities and rights. Even if your stepchild’s noncustodial parent objects, the adoption may still go through. Consult with a legal advocate to learn about your rights as a stepparent and determine the most favorable course of legal action.

Legal forms 

Expect to have to complete several legal forms before becoming your stepchild’s legal guardian. This is another area in which it is good to work with a legal professional to see what forms you need. Additionally, learn whether you must turn your case over to Surrogacy or Family Court or juvenile court. Once you learn which court handles your case, request to have an information packet mailed to you.

Court hearing 

The court hearing for your adoption gives the judge a chance to question you and everyone else involved in the adoption. To help ease any anxiety you may feel about the hearing, turn to your legal advocate for insight.

Preparation is key to a successful stepparent adoption. Use the above information to become your stepchild’s legal parent.