Sometimes stepparents want to adopt their stepchildren, but this process is very difficult because unless the natural parent consents, courts are very reluctant to separate biological parents and children. Stepparent adoption frees the natural parent of support obligations and removes his or her presence from the lives of the children, and some stepparents feel that legal parenthood makes the process of blending easier.
In the words of one family law attorney, Sue Moss of Chemtob, Moss, Forman & Talbert, the stepparent remains "a biological and legal stranger" to stepchildren. This means "the stepparents may adopt only after the noncustodial parent has been removed from the status of legal parent by consent, court order, or death."
A court can involuntarily strip a parent of his or her rights when he or she abandons a child, which generally means "no contact between the parent and child for at least one year."
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