As anyone in a blended family can tell you, navigating relationships involving stepparents and stepchildren is often difficult. Many parents struggle to accept it when an ex remarries and brings a new stepparent into their child’s life. This is especially true if the parent feels that the stepparent is trying to replace him or her. If you are a father currently in this situation, you may wonder whether your child’s stepfather has the right to adopt your child. The answer depends on several factors.
Illinois Law Regarding Parental Rights
According to Illinois law, a child can only have two parents. A child may only be adopted if one or both of the child’s parents is deceased or has their parental rights terminated. If you have already established paternity or parentage of your child, you are the child’s father in the eyes of the law. This means that your child’s stepfather cannot adopt your child unless your parental rights are terminated - either voluntarily or involuntarily. Illinois law seeks to preserve the parent-child relationship whenever possible. Therefore, it is only under extreme circumstances that a parent’s rights are terminated against his or her will.
Illinois courts may determine that a parent is “unfit” and terminate that parent’s rights if the parent:...