Adoption of stepchildren in Alberta is a legal process in which an adult becomes the legal parent of someone who is not his or her biological child. As family law lawyers, we often see step parents wanting to adopt their step children. When a parent adopts a child, they are given all legal parental rights and the biological parent cannot reclaim these rights once the adoption is finalized. There is also the option to become a legal guardian of a child. When a parent becomes a legal guardian they are given certain parental responsibilities towards the child and given decision making abilities.
How The Adoption Process Works In Alberta
The Court of King’s Bench rules on matters of stepparents adopting their stepchildren by court application. Affidavits, consents, and other supporting materials must be included with the application. Lawyers are often retained to prepare, file and appear in court for the legal process. Parties have the option to self-represent however, this process can be very time-consuming and difficult to navigate on your own.
The documents for the application must be served on the Minister, all guardians other than the applicant parent involved in the application, the biological parents even though they may not be a guardian, and the child (if they are over the age of 12).
The Requirements For Adopting A Stepchild
An adoptive parent will assume the rights, duties, and responsibilities of the child. The Court must be satisfied that the adopting parent is capable of becoming a parent to the child and that it is in the best interests of the child to be adopted.
When adopting stepchildren in Alberta, certain consents must be required depending on your specific situation. Consent to the adoption of the child is required by the birth parents, guardians, and any child over the age of 12 years. There are serious legal ramifications of consenting to allow your child to be adopted by his or her step-parent. Accordingly, birth parent consent must be signed either in front of a lawyer or with a representative of the Ministry Of Social Services.
Legal Outcomes of an Adoption
Once the adoption takes place, the stepparent will be treated no differently than a parent. The birth parent loses all their rights, duties, and responsibilities for that child. This means that they will have no further legal standing with respect to making decisions for, spending time with, or being responsible for the child.
Adoption creates families and should be a joyful experience. However, without proper support from a qualified lawyer, it can be an overly long, frustrating, and expensive process. Our experienced family law lawyers can help with the legal details in the context of unique family situations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I adopt my stepchild in Canada?
Yes, you can adopt your stepchild even if you are not married to their biological parent. Common-law partners and same-sex partners are also eligible to adopt.
Can my partner adopt my child without the other biological parent’s consent?
The Court can still make an adoption order without the biological parent’s consent. If the child and the biological parent have a close connection, the Court will want to know their and the child’s view on the adoption. The Court may decide to explore an Order to disperse with the biological parent’s requirement to consent to the adoption after considering a number of factors.
Does a stepparent have any rights in Alberta?
Stepparents who have adopted their stepchildren have the same legal rights as biological parents. If the stepchildren are not adopted by the stepparent, the stepparent may still be found to stand in loco parentis (in the place of a parent) to the child which means that the Court would consider both parenting and child support issues.
How much does it cost to adopt a stepchild in Alberta?
The cost of adopting a stepchild can range significantly depending on a variety of different factors such as the service of the biological parents, whether assessments are involved, and whether the Court requires any other third-party information to be presented.
For more information about how we can help you with your adoption, contact us for a consultation.
Disclaimer: The content provided in the blog posts of Jones Divorce & Family Law is general information and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for legal advice tailored to your specific situation. All articles are current as of their original publication date.