In a step-parent adoption the current spouse of a biological parent seeks to become the other legal parent of the child.  A step-parent adoption has two parts:

First, the biological parent whose rights are being terminated must have their parental rights terminated by an order of the Court.  Second, the court would need to grant the adoption.

The termination of that parent's parental rights can be voluntary or involuntary.  A voluntary termination of parental rights can happen when the parent agrees to their parental rights being terminated. A voluntary termination often involves the terminating parent signing a specialized document called an an Affidavit of Relinquishment of Parental Rights or a Waiver Interest signifying their agreement to the termination.

An involuntary termination of parental rights is necessary when the parent does not agree to the termination of his or her parental rights.  For an involuntary termination of parental rights to be granted, the parent seeking termination must prove to the judge by clear and convincing evidence both that: 1) there is at least one ground for termination under Texas Family Code Section 161.001(A-U); and 2) that the termination is in the best interest of the child.

Section 161.001(A-U) grounds for termination include abandoning the child with someone other than the child’s other parent, engaging in behavior which endangers the child, failing to support the child in accordance with the parent’s ability, being convicted of various serious crimes, and other grounds applicable to cases brought by CPS against the parents.

Frequently Asked Questions

about Termination and Adoption

These are answers to frequently asked questions about Termination and Adoption. There may be exceptions in a particular case, but as a general matter:

  1. A person cannot voluntarily terminate their parental rights to avoid paying child support. Why? The state has an interest in having two parents be liable or potentially liable for the financial support their child, rather than the child being supported by taxpayer funds. Most Courts will not terminate parental rights voluntarily unless the other parent has a spouse who files to adopt the child at the same time.
  2. The Court will not allow two unmarried persons to adopt. Why? The reason is the stability of the child. The thought is that if the parent and their significant other are not committed enough to marry, they should not adopt a child together.
  3. Termination of parental rights is not a punishment for a man being a bad boyfriend during the mother's pregnancy. Why? The case law is clear that parental rights termination is not intended to be a punishment. It is supposed to be focused on what is in the best interest of the child. A person can be a bad partner but a great parent.
  4. Termination of parental rights is not the remedy if you are being denied visitation. Why? The remedy for being denied visitation with your child is to get an enforceable visitation order. If the other parent is violating your enforceable visitation order, hire a qualified Family Law attorney and file a Motion for Enforcement.
  5. Adoption is not necessary to change a child's name. Why? Adoption can indeed include a name change. However, if all you want is a change in the child's name, file a Petition for the Name Change. A Petition for Name Change is still a lawsuit, but it is much less expensive and involved than an adoption.
  6. You cannot surprise your step-parent with an adoption for Mother's or Father's Day. Why? An adoption is a law suit that bestows legal rights and duties on the adopting parent. An adoption therefore requires the knowledge, consent, and participation of the adopting parent.
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