Skip Navigation

Step-Parent Adoption in Wisconsin: What You Need to Know


Step-Parent Adoption in Wisconsin: What You Need to Know

by Nathan Russell, Owner & Managing Attorney

Are you a step-parent looking to adopt your stepchild? This is an exciting and emotional time for your family, and the legal process can be complex. However, with the help of an experienced family law attorney, the process can be smoother and more positive than you might expect.

The attorneys at Russell Law Offices have helped many step-parents in Wisconsin navigate the legal process of adoption. Here’s what you need to know about the process and your legal rights.

Step-Parent Adoption Process in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the step-parent adoption process typically starts with obtaining the consent of both biological parents, unless one of them has had their parental rights terminated by the court. Once both biological parents consent to the adoption, the process begins with filing a petition for adoption with the court, which is followed by an evaluation by the County, and then a hearing.

The court will carefully review the petition and will order an investigation to ensure that the adoption is in the best interests of the child. An attorney, known as the Guardian ad Litem, will be appointed to represent the child and provide an unbiased opinion on the matter. The Guardian ad Litem will take into consideration factors such as the child’s relationship with their biological parents, the fitness of the step-parent to adopt, and any other relevant factors in making a recommendation to the court.

During the adoption hearing, the court will consider all the evidence presented, including the investigation and the Guardian ad Litem’s report, before making a decision on whether to grant the adoption. If the court finds that the adoption is in the best interests of the child, it will issue an order granting the adoption.

Your Legal Rights as a Step-Parent Adopting in Wisconsin

When you become a step-parent through adoption in Wisconsin, the legal relationship between you and your stepchild changes significantly. You will now have the same legal rights and responsibilities as a biological parent. This means that you will have the right to make important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as education, medical care, and religious upbringing. You will also have the responsibility to provide financial support for the child, just like any biological parent.

It’s important to understand that these rights and responsibilities will continue even if you and your spouse were to become divorced in the future. The court will consider the best interests of the child when making decisions regarding custody and placement, and your legal status as a parent will be taken into account. This means that you may be entitled to visitation rights and other parental rights even if you are no longer married to the child’s biological parent.

It’s also worth noting that being a legal parent means that you have the right to be involved in the child’s life and to make decisions on their behalf. This includes important decisions such as medical care, education, and religious upbringing. You will also have the responsibility to financially support the child, including providing for their basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. This is a significant responsibility that should not be taken lightly, but for many step-parents, the rewards of having a legal relationship with their stepchild far outweigh the challenges.


At Russell Law Offices, we understand the importance of step-parent adoption for your family, and we have seen firsthand how positive the experience can be. By working with an experienced family law attorney, you can navigate the legal process with confidence and ensure the best possible outcome for your family.

Step-parent adoption can be a wonderful way to strengthen and solidify the bond between a child and their step-parent. At Russell Law Offices, we are here to help guide you through the legal process and ensure a positive experience for your family. Some of my most positive memories as an attorney have been working with families on step-parent adoption cases.  Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about our adoption services.

We have years of experience working with families in Wisconsin and helping them navigate step-parent adoptions. Let us help you make your family’s dream of adoption a reality.


Nathan Russell

Managing Attorney and Owner

All Locations

About Nathan Russell is the founder and owner of Russell Law Offices, SC.  Born and raised on his family’s fifth generation dairy and crop farm in Shullsburg, he returned to Southwest Wisconsin to practice law in 2009.    Nathan earned a degree in Agricultural Economics and his Juris Doctorate from UW-Madison.  Prior to opening Russell […]

View Full Bio

Schedule A Consultation Today

Contact Us