Your spouse alone cannot give you permission to adopt their child. You also need the other parent’s permission. If you adopt the child, that parent will forfeit their parental rights, and they might not be willing to do so.
If they refuse, your only chance is to ask a court to terminate their parental rights. There are three reasons they could do this.
1. They are not the child’s parent
Let’s say the child resulted from an extramarital affair your wife had during her previous marriage. If she did not tell her husband at the time, his name would automatically be on the child’s birth certificate. To prove they are not may require proving who is.
2. They abandoned the child
You would need to show the parent has not contacted the child or provided financial support for some time.
3. They are unfit to parent
Examples could include:
- The parent presents a danger to the child
- They have a severe addiction
- They are serving a very long prison sentence
In all cases, the court makes the final decision on someone’s fitness to parent, not you or your partner.
Remember that proceeding against a parent’s wishes could cause emotional issues for the child you are trying to adopt. The last thing you need is your stepchild to think you are trying to take their parent away from them.
Sometimes adoption is the right way forward, but other times it is better to accept and enjoy your status as a step-parent. If you believe you have a strong case to adopt, seek legal help to understand more about the adoption process.