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There are many forms of adoption, with each one coming with a variety of challenges and unique circumstances. However, there is one form that is more common than the rest: a stepparent adopting a stepchild.

When this happens, the stepparent agrees to become the legal parent of the child while also providing fully for him or her. Along with this, and after the process is complete, the noncustodial parent is no longer responsible for the child, meaning they don't have to pay any child support.

There are many steps associated with the adoption of a stepchild, with these among the most important:

-- Learn more about your state's laws on adopting a stepchild.

-- Get in touch with the court in your county that is responsible for handling this process.

-- Collect and submit all the required legal forms.

-- Prepare for and take part in the preliminary hearing.

-- Finalize the adoption process as outlined by the state.

-- Apply for a new birth certificate.

While these are the most basic steps associated with adopting a stepchild, you can expect each one to take some time. For example, you'll need to gather quite a bit of personal information as you complete the legal forms required by the court.

Since there is so much that goes into adopting a stepchild, don't wait to begin the process. Along with this, give yourself plenty of time to complete each step. Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, you can obtain assistance along the way. What matters most is that you comply with the court to push the process forward in a efficient manner.

Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway, "Stepparent Adoption," accessed Jan. 20, 2017

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