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In step parent adoption in GA is a background check required by court of petitioner?

Smyrna, GA |

One of the parties is the biological mother and the step parent has been married and taking care of the minor child for the last 3 years. The child is 4 years old and has never met her father. Whereabouts unknown?

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Attorney answers 3


Yes, the Court will require the Petitioner to submit his fingerprints and undergo a background check. However, a criminal history will not necessarily preclude a petitioner from adopting. Criminal history is just one of the factors the court will consider.


A criminal records check is normal in step-parent adoptions. You didn't say but is there something bad thatw ill show up in that check?

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Yes, in Georgia, the Petitioner for a step-parent adoption is required to submit GBI and FBI background checks. The Petitioner does not need to go through a full home study, as would be required in an independent adoption, but the court will look into making sure that the Petitioner and home are safe for the child. Many counties will require a Court Report that is more like a mini home study. Other counties allow for you to submit a Declaration in lieu of in home visit for step-parent adoptions.

That being said, I agree with my colleagues that not all criminal charges in one's background will preclude the court from approving the adoption. I recommend that you discuss this question with an attorney. Your attorney can discuss the criminal charges with you and guide you about how to present this information to the court. Often a good course of action is to write an affidavit explaining your old criminal charges. If it was a minor offense, committed many many years ago and you have been an upstanding citizen every since, this evidence can be presented to the Court. The Court will look at the best interest of the child and make a decision based on the totality of the circumstances.

Additionally, your attorney will have to determine where the biological father stands with respect to his rights under Georgia adoption law. He may be a biological father or a legal father. There are different criteria depending on his legal status. Legal fathers are ones who were married to the birthmother or acknowledged paternity.

If he is simply a biological father, he is served with notice. If 30 days go by after he is served and he does nothing, then the court can terminate his rights without his written consent. If, after a diligent search, his whereabout are truly unknown, your attorney can motion the court to serve through publication.

If you have a legal father and he has not communicated, supported and seen the child in over a year, then, after proper service, the court can terminate his rights on grounds of abandonment.

The most important thing you can give your child is her complete medical history. Above all else try to get a complete history from the father - we never know what the future brings.

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I am licensed to practice solely in Georgia, and do not intend to give legal advice or create a lawyer/client relationship. Please consult an attorney in your state for detailed advice on your legal question.