Adopting Your Stepchild

Silvia Cioci
Posted July 27, 2020 Category: Individuals/Families

In Ontario, the Child, Youth and Family Services Act governs the adoption of children. One type of adoption is a stepparent adoption. You do not need to be married to the child’s parent in order to apply for a stepparent adoption. Adult children can also be adopted.

Each family’s circumstances are unique, but there are many reasons to consider adopting a stepchild. For example, one of the parents may be deceased, unknown, or uninvolved in the child’s life.

What Rights Do I Have After Adopting?

After the child is adopted, the stepparent will have the same rights to the child as a biological parent, which includes the ability to make decisions about the child’s well-being. In the event of a parental death, adoption protects the child’s right to inherit. The other parent’s rights and responsibilities to the child, with respect to the child’s custody, care, and control, are transferred to the stepparent through the adoption process. Adoption permanently terminates the other parent’s responsibility of caring for and raising the child.  

Adopting in Kingston

In Kingston, an Adoption Application must be filed at the Superior Court of Justice, Family Court. The stepparent must serve and file documents such as an Application, a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate, an Affidavit of Parentage, and an Affidavit which speaks to the stepparent’s circumstances and relationship with the stepchild. There may be other documents that are required, depending on individualized circumstances such as whether the child resides in Canada. An assessment by an adoption practitioner is typically not needed for stepparent adoptions, but in some instances a Judge may require an assessment be completed.

Most adoptions will also require the consent of all of the child’s parent(s) and the child, if they are 7 years or older. This requires the parents and the child to obtain independent legal advice. If it is not in the best interests of the child(ren) for one of these parties to provide their consent, the Court can be asked to make an order to proceed without that person’s consent.

Who Decides if the Adoption Goes Through?

A Judge will decide whether it is in the child’s best interests to be adopted. The parties to the Application may or may not have to appear before the Judge. If the Court grants the adoption, an adoption ceremony at the courthouse can be arranged. Once the adoption is finalized, an Adoption Order will be signed by the Judge and a new birth certificate will be issued to the child. This certificate will include the adoptive parent and show the child’s new name, if requested in the Application.

If you have any questions or are considering adoption, our Family Law team would be pleased to assist you through the process.

For assistance with your family law enquiry, please contact Christopher Murphy-Stevens at cmurphystevens@cswan.com or 613.544.0211 ext. 8043.

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Silvia Cioci
Posted July 27, 2020 Category: Individuals/Families

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