A birth father must consent to the adoption of his child by a stepfather. When the adoption happens, the natural father no longer has any rights to the child, but he can prevent the adoption by objecting.
The rights of the natural father can be severed in one of two ways. Either the court can issue an order terminating his rights or he can voluntarily relinquish them.
As long as the natural father is alive, an adoption cannot proceed until the court has involuntarily terminated his parental rights or he has voluntarily relinquished them. This is the case even if he never married the child’s mother.
Depending on the jurisdiction, the father may be able to consent by signing an affidavit provided by the former spouse or her attorney. In some states, he may appear in court at the time of the former wife’s stepparent adoption hearing and give consent by testimony.
He may also refuse to give consent, which means the former wife must convince the court to terminate his rights. If the father has been involved and active in his child’s life, this is normally impossible.
The most likely reason a court involuntarily terminates the rights of a father is absenteeism. Absenteeism does not necessarily mean that a father never had any contact with your child. A father who has been out of his child’s life for a year or more may be considered absent, particularly if he has not paid child support.
A former wife can also choose to prove that the former husband is not the child’s presumed father. This would mean that they were not married at the time the child was conceived or born and her former husband never acknowledged paternity.
An unfit or negligent father may have had his rights terminated before a stepparent moves toward adoption, which means the former spouse does not have to do anything more before her new spouse can adopt.