What Are A Stepfather's Options For Adopting A Stepchild With No Father On The Birth Certificate?

After marriage, adopting your stepchild might seem a natural action if the birth father is not involved. Unfortunately, there are some circumstances that could complicate the process, such as the absence of the birth father's name on the birth certificate. If you are planning to adopt your stepchild whose father's name is not listed, here is what you need to know. 

Can You Just Add Your Name to the Certificate?

Some people mistakenly believe that since the father is not listed on a child's birth certificate, simply adding the stepfather's name to the document is equivalent to adoption. In actuality, you and the birth mother could face legal consequences for taking such an action. 

The birth certificate is a legal document. By knowingly adding information to the document that is false, you and the birth mother are committing fraud. If your deception is discovered, you could face criminal charges, such as tampering with a government record. 

What If the Father Is Known?

If the birth mother knows the biological father's name, you have to provide notice to him that you want to adopt his child. Even if he has not been involved in the child's life, you cannot legally proceed with the adoption without putting forth an honest effort to notify the father. 

How you provide notice depends on your state's requirements. If you know the father's contact information, you can provide it to the court and he will be notified. If the father's information is not known, you can place a notice in newspapers that are located within the area in which the father's last known address is located. 

What If the Father Is Unknown?

If the birth mother is unsure of who is the biological father, you have the responsibility of notifying each possibility. Follow your state's rules for notifications. 

DNA testing will be necessary to determine who is the child's biological father. Even though the father has not been involved in the child's life, he has to agree to allow the termination of his parental rights so that the adoption can proceed. 

If the biological father is never found, after a period of time, the family court will allow you to continue with the adoption if you can prove that you put forth an honest effort to find the father. 

Due to the complexities of stepchild adoptions, it is important to consult with a family law attorney who can offer specific advice based on your state's laws. Contact a firm like Ivy Law Group PLLC.