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What is second-parent adoption, and is it something I can do?

by | Nov 23, 2020 | Adoption, Family Law |

In our most recent blog article, we covered the basics of adoption in Texas, including who can be adopted and who can adopt. There’s one piece to the adoption puzzle that deserves an article on its own, and that’s second-parent adoption.

Second-parent adoption is the adoption of a child by an additional parent when the child has only one legal parent. According to family law in Texas, “In a second-parent adoption, the additional parent can be recognized as such without the first parent losing any parental rights. There is no Texas law that explicitly prohibits second-parent adoption, and case law seemingly supports the practice.”

The guide, geared toward an LGBTQ audience, notes that “courts in Austin and San Antonio have allowed second-parent adoptions. In two Texas appellate cases, the court has left intact second-parent adoptions for LGBTQ parents, even after the parents have separated.”

A key phrase in the Texas Family Code is: “the person seeking the adoption has been a managing conservator or has had actual care, possession, and control of the child for a period of six months preceding the adoption.” That can include same-sex couples in which one partner is the mother or father of the child, or a couple in which the legal parent of the child remarries, and the new spouse is seeking parental rights.

It is also notable that the Texas Family Code can include “the child’s former stepparent” if that person meets the managing conservator or care, possession, and control requirement, provided that “the nonterminated parent consents to the adoption.”

The question of second-parent adoption has come up for us at the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance recently because of questions we’ve fielded from people who want to know their options. For example, a woman who conceived a child via in vitro fertilization, in a same-sex relationship, could explore second-parent adoption for her partner.

For biological parents who are looking for a way to afford their partners parental rights, second-parent adoption can be a good route to go. But there is one word of caution before proceeding: Because of the case law precedent we discussed above, if you do divorce or split up with the person who has parental rights via second-parent adoption, those rights don’t terminate when your relationship ends.

If you and your partner are ready to pursue second-parent adoption, though, the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance is here to help you through the process. Adoption is an important and life-changing process, and having expert family law counsel on your side can help you take the steps toward the momentous goal of legally becoming the parent of a child you already love and care for.