Second marriages often involve stepchildren, that is, children who were born to one of the spouses prior to the marriage. Not infrequently, the stepparent wants to adopt the stepchild (or stepchildren) for reasons of financial security, ensuring the child’s welfare and strengthening family bonds. Stepparent adoption in New Mexico is not difficult, but the governing statute specifies a number of steps that must be followed.

Stepparent adoptions fall into two classes: where the adoptee has lived with the stepparent for more than one year following the stepparent’s marriage to the child’s custodial parent, and where the adoptee has not lived with the stepparent for more than one year following the stepparent’s marriage to the child’s custodial parent. In the latter case, the stepparent must commence an independent adoption process and follow the procedures in New Mexico’s Adoption Act.

If the child has lived with the stepparent for more than one year, several requirements of independent adoptions are not required. No pre-placement or post-placement study is required, and if the adoptee is more than 10 years old, he or she is not required to receive counseling. The non-custodial parent must be informed of the adoption, but counseling may be waived. The child’s name following the adoption must be specified in the adoption petition. The court may waive or shorten the ninety-day notice period that follows the filing of the petition in independent adoptions.

Anyone contemplating adopting his or her spouse’s children may wish to consult an attorney who specializes in family law. A knowledgeable attorney can provide an overview of the adoption process, identify any factors that may hamper the process and give useful advice on overcoming such problems.

Source: New Mexico Statutes, Section 32A-5-32, Stepparent adoptions, accessed July 13, 2015