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Step-Parent Adoption/Relinquishing of Parental Rights

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Junior Member
I am in VA. My son is 7 and I will remarry in the near future. I would like my future husband to adopt my son. My son's biological father, my ex-husband, has not seen him since Jan. 2002, is about $10k or more behind in child support and rarely calls. I am keeping a log of the calls, which equals to about one call per month, sometimes the length between calls has been as long as 3-4 months. By the time I remarry, I will have a record of at least 2 years worth of contact or lack there of on my ex's part to be active in our son's life. Will the information that I have be a good enough to build a case for an adandonment?
I know that he will have to be notified of the adoption request and will probably fight it. But if I can show proof of abandonment, will what I have be enough or do I have to do/show more? He has moved and has not provided a new address and has not attempted to provide one. The only address available is his mother's residence. My son and I do stay in contact with her, my ex-sister-in-law sister and a cousin from his side of the family. As for me, I have resided at the same address, so there is no excuse why he has not stayed in better in contact with our son.


Under the Radar Member
Calling once a month or every few months IS contact and does NOT constitute abandonment. If Dad refuses to consent to the adoption, you may be in for a long, and expensive, fight.

Be aware that most states require you to be married for a period of time before a stepparent adoption will be considered. A year seems to be rather standard.


Junior Member
But, in some states, failure to pay "reasonable" child support over a period of time, maybe one year before the petition, constitutes grounds for the adoption, and you need not necessarily prove abandonment in the sense of no contact.

In my state, a stepparent can adopt if there's failure to pay reasonable child support for a year, it doesn't appear likely that reasonable child support will be paid, and the adoption is in the child's best interests.


Junior Member
I am in Indiana.
I am a single parent of a 9 year old daughter whose father pays regular child support which is garnished from his paycheck, but he has only seen her once in the past 9 years and does not wish to see her. I am getting married this next year and was curious to find out how difficult it would be to have my fiance adopt her after we are married. I do not believe my daughters father would object to this, he does not want or plan to be in her life. My fiance has been the only father figure my daughter has known and I was wondering what will all happen when we decide to persue him becoming her adoptive father. Will we need a lawyer? How expensive will it be? How long will the process take? Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you!


Senior Member
You don't even have to wait for the adoption to terminate his rights, you can file for a TPR without an adoption in VA.

I don't know what all the specific grounds are but one of my best friends terminated her ex's rights (in VA) and she just graduated from law school, although she did this herself before she went to law school. If I can get up with her, I'll try to find out the specifics or you could look up the statutes at the VA General Assembly website.

Yes, do be aware that you will have to issue him a summons, or if location is unknown, they'll usually let you do it through publication, but he has a certain amount of time to respond and contest it. If you could get him to consent however, that would be a lot easier.


Senior Member
Although I'm sure what Grace said is true, I think if it was me I would wait a bit. First, it would like end up costing more to do it in two rounds (the TPR, and the adoption separately) since they can do it all together but secondly I would wait also until you were married already only because you would show stability a bit more. I'm not saying you aren't stable now but look at it for another's point of view, You TPR and then you change the dynamics of the household and like if you TPR you'll mention you are engaged to be married so it would be hard to hide that part.

If he's not contacting I think you'd be safe to wait a bit.

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