Stepparent Adoption in Kentucky

May 19, 2015  |  adoption, family law

            There are several types of adoptions that can be granted pursuant to Kentucky law.  One of the most common is stepparent adoption. A stepparent adoption occurs when the spouse of the child’s parent wishes to adopt their stepchild. Stepparent adoption does not impact the parental rights of the stepparent’s spouse who is a biological parent to the child sought to be adopted.

            A stepparent who is eighteen (18) years of age and who is a resident of this state or who has resided in this state for twelve (12) months prior to filing the Petition for Adoption may file a Petition for Adoption of their stepchild.

            Unlike in other adoptions, a home study is not required in stepparent adoptions. Although a home study is not required, approval from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is necessary. In most cases, a guardian ad litem, who is a practicing attorney, is appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the child to be adopted.

            No adoption can be granted without the voluntary and informed consent of both living biological parents, and the child sought to be adopted if the child is at least twelve (12) years old. If paternity of the child has not been established (either in a legal action or by an Affidavit of Paternity signed by the father), consent of the presumed father shall not be required.

            Voluntary and informed consent, as defined in KRS 199.011(14), means that at the time of the execution of the consent, the consenting person was fully informed of the legal effect of the consent, that the consenting person was not given or promised anything of value except those expenses allowable by law, that the consenting person was not coerced in any way to execute the consent, and that the consent was voluntarily and knowingly given. If at the time of the execution of the consent, the consenting person was represented by independent legal counsel, there shall be a presumption that the consent was voluntary and informed. The consent shall be in writing, signed and sworn to by the consenting person and must include specific information set out in KRS 199.011(14).

            Once a voluntary and informed consent has been executed, the biological parents have twenty (20) days in which to change their minds. After twenty (20) days, the consent becomes irrevocable.

            An adoption may be granted without the consent of the biological living parent(s), if it is proven as part of the adoption proceedings that certain grounds exist for the involuntary termination of parental rights of the non-consenting parent(s). Grounds for an involuntary termination of parental rights can be found at KRS 625.090. This is something to be considered, particularly in situations where the putative (presumed) father cannot be found.

            When an adoption is granted, all parental rights and obligations are terminated from the biological parent(s). This includes the obligation of the biological parent(s) to pay future child support. However, the biological parent(s) still has responsibility for payment of any child support due as of the date the adoption is finalized.

            Although stepparent adoptions are less complicated than other types of adoptions, the services of an attorney experienced in adoptions is necessary. The family law attorneys at O’Hara, Ruberg, Taylor, Sergent & Sloan have experience in all types of adoptions, including stepparent adoptions. Contact us to schedule a consultation to learn more about stepparent adoptions.           

Authored by: Acena Beck

Acena is Of Counsel to O’Hara, Ruberg, Taylor, Sloan & Sergent, and focuses her practice on family law matters.