Georgia law allows a stepparent to adopt his or her stepchild in certain situations:
- If the parent he or she is replacing is deceased
- If the parent he or she is replacing consents in writing to the adoption.
If the child has a living parent who will not consent to the adoption, the stepparent can still pursue adoption by asking the Court to terminate a parent’s parental rights if the parent he or she is replacing:
- Has failed without justification to communicate with the child in a meaningful parental manner for at least a year before the adoption is filed
- Has failed without justification to provide support for the child for at least a year before the adoption is filed
- Has abandoned the child
- Has failed to exercise proper parental care and control of the child such that the child would be considered dependent under Georgia’s juvenile code.
No matter whether the parent to be replaced consents or has his or her rights terminated:
- The Court will require that the stepparent complete a criminal history background check to the Court’s satisfaction
- The Court may appoint a neutral agent to investigate the adoption and make a recommendation as to whether the adoption is in the child’s best interest
- The stepparent’s spouse (the child’s other parent) must consent in writing to the adoption.
Finally, as with every adoption under Georgia law, the Court must find that the adoption is in the best interest of the child.