adoption attorney

Skilled Step-Parent Adoption Attorney Represents Blended Families and LGBTQ+ Couples Through the Step-Parent Adoption Process in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area

With the legalization of same-sex marriage throughout the United States, LGBTQ+ couples now have the same rights as heterosexual couples to be married. When one or both spouses in a new marriage bring their own biological or adopted children to their new family, the other spouse may wish to cement the legal status of the family unit by legally adopting their spouse’s children through a step-parent adoption. Adopting a spouse’s children also provides certain legal advantages, allowing children to inherit or benefit from a step-parent and permitting the step-parent to make legal or medical decisions on behalf of the children. If you and your spouse are considering formalizing your legal status as a family, let a step-parent adoption attorney from Zavos Law answer your questions and guide you through the process.

For more than 30 years, Attorney Michele Zavos has dedicated her career to assisting blended families establish legal recognition of their relationship. Michele has extensive expertise working with same-sex couples to certify their legal familial rights. She has also been at the forefront of advocating for changes in the law to expand adoption laws to ensure that everyone in a loving parental relationship with children can have their rights recognized.

If you have questions about how to adopt your spouse’s child or children, contact Attorney Michele Zavos at Michele Zavos Law to get the answers you need and the legal assistance that can help make the adoption process as smooth and efficient as possible for you and your family.

How Can a Step-Parent Adopt Their Step-Child?

In most cases, the process of a step-parent adoption is a lot less complex than a traditional adoption, as a step-parent adoption usually does not require a home visit or other investigative actions by CFS or social workers.

If a prospective adoptive step-parent’s spouse is the child or children’s only legal parent, then the spouse’s consent to adoption is usually all that is needed to effect a step-parent adoption through a petition with the court.

However, when the child or children to be adopted have a non-custodial biological or legal parent, the step-parent adoption process can become more complicated. If the non-custodial biological or legal parent fails or refuses to consent or objects to the adoption, the step-parent adoption process will first require termination of the non-custodial biological or legal parent’s rights.

     “we trust her counsel
completely and her presence at
pivotal and often vulnerable
moments has been
extremely reassuring.”

A court may terminate a non-custodial parent’s parental rights in favor of a step-parent’s adoption if the court finds that the non-custodial parent has abandoned and failed to financially contribute towards the care of their child or children, or that the non-custodial parent’s withholding of consent to a step-parent’s adoption is contrary to the child’s or children’s best interests. Some of the factors that a court may consider in evaluating a child’s best interests for a step-parent adoption include:

  • A child’s need for a stable and permanent home and familial environment
  • The child’s physical, mental, and emotional needs
  • The quality of the relationship between the child and step-parent and among siblings/step-siblings and other relatives
  • The child’s preferences, if they are mature enough to express a reasoned preference

If a step-parent petition is granted, the step-parent will then be listed as the child’s or children’s other legal parent. If the child or children had another non-custodial parent, their parental rights are terminated by the granting of the adoption petition.

What Can a Step-Parent Adoption Attorney from Michele Zavos Law Do to Make the Adoption Process Smoother for You and Your Family? To ensure that you and your family can successfully pursue a step-parent adoption, turn to step-parent adoption attorney Michele Zavos for help with:

  • Evaluating your family’s eligibility for a step-parent adoption and explaining the potential legal benefits of adoption
  • Assisting you with choosing the best option for your family’s situation
  • Preparing and filing your adoption petition with the court
  • Representing you and your family during court hearings
  • Advocating for your family’s rights and interests, including if the court holds parental right termination hearings for a non-custodial parent
  • Helping you with additional paperwork that may be required following the court’s granting of your step-parent adoption petition, such as filing a new birth certificate for your child or children or petitioning for a name change for your child


As a step-parent, am I automatically entitled to adopt my partner’s/spouse’s child or children?
Not necessarily. In a step-parent adoption, you must obtain the consent of the child’s other biological parent for you to adopt. If the other parent refuses to consent or objects to the adoption, you must instead obtain a court order terminating the non-custodial biological parent’s parental rights before you can adopt your spouse’s child or children. This is because the law contemplates that a person can only have two legal parents.
Can my step-child choose to have me become their legal parent?
Unfortunately no. The laws do not contemplate the adoption process as being started by the child who is being adopted, even if the child has already reached the age of adulthood. Instead, the adoption process must be initiated by the parent who is adopting, and the process must also involve the noncustodial biological parent if they are still alive.

let michele zavos help to complete your family.

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