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Stepparent Adoptions in Arizona

Stepparent adoptions are common, but it does not take away from the true heartfelt value of the action. Stepping in as a new parent for a child could have a tremendous impact on that child’s life, and has the potential to allow the child to grow and be loved in an environment they may never seen the joy of experiencing.

Stepparent adoptions happen when one biological parent retains parental rights while the relationship with the other biological parent is severed, which results in the loss of all rights or responsibilities for the child. In effect, the stepparent who is adopting the child then assumes the role as the new parent and acquires the rights and responsibilities. A stepparent adoption is permanent and cannot be nullified or terminated, even if the parents choose to divorce or go through a legal separation.

About Stepparent Adoptions in Arizona

Arizona law recognizes spouses and domestic partners in stepparent adoptions. In these cases, birth parent still remains as the child’s legal parent, typically making the process easier. However, it is important to remember that any adoption is still a legal process and therefore must be handled with care to ensure it is done efficiently and effectively. You can also avoid future issues by making sure the adoption is legally sound.

Stepparent adoptions may have their own complexities when issues involving the non-custodial parent arise. Typically, it is the spouse of the custodial parent who will wish to seek to adopt the child. While the custodial parent may give his or her consent, the non-custodial parent may object. Depending upon your particular case, there may be steps your family law attorney can take to ensure your adoption is successful even without the non-custodial parent’s consent. However, this will vary depending upon the circumstances and so it is important to find out more about your unique matter by consulting an attorney.

Stepparent Adoption Requirements

If you are a stepparent looking to adopt a child, you should first be aware of the basic legal requirements needed to become an adoptive parent. Before a stepparent adoption can be finalized or recognized in court, the following requirements must be met:

  • Adopting parents must be legally married or in a legal domestic partnership
  • Adopting parent must be at least 18 years old, and at least 10 years older than the adopted child
  • The biological parent and the adopting parent’s spouse or partner must consent to the adoption
  • If the child is over 12 years old, the child must consent to the adoption

If you do not fit one of the requirements in the above list, do not worry or be dismayed. It is possible to move forward legally with an adoption even if some requirements are not met. Consult an experienced Arizona family lawyer who is happy to help you move through this process.

Stepparent Adoption Guidance from an Arizona Family Law Attorney

Stepparent adoptions can be an extremely emotional process. On one hand, you could be changing the life of a child who may have had an absent parent their entire life. On the other, emotions can become tangled if the biological parent is still alive, still maintains contact with the child, and refuses to give consent under no grounds other than stubbornness or anger. There may be no legal reasons holding you back from letting the adoption take place, but the emotions and rights of everyone involved must also be carefully considered.

Rather than trying to take on an entire legal system alone, seek guidance and counsel from an experienced and knowledgeable team of attorneys who can help you navigate the emotional and complex roads through Arizona’s family court system. Do not get discouraged if you are having complications with biological parents or if you don’t meet some of the legal requirements. There are many ways to proceed with a stepparent adoption, and we wish to help you choose the most appropriate route to take.

Becoming a parent may be your most sincere dream and purpose in life and the attorneys at our firm can stand firmly beside you along your journey. We have proudly served the residents of Arizona for over 20 years, and we may be able to use our experience to help you as well.

Stepparent Adoption FAQs

What is a stepparent adoption?

A stepparent adoption refers to a situation where the new spouse of a birth parent wishes to adopt their child. Arizona law also allows for domestic partners to apply for stepparent adoptions. Instead of terminating the rights of the birth parent, a stepparent adoption simply establishes new rights for the new, adoptive parent.

Is the stepparent adoption process complicated?

Because it is legal in nature, stepparent adoption can easily become complicated. Generally speaking, however, it is usually more straightforward than other forms of adoption because the birth parent’s rights are not terminated.

What sort of issues may arise?

One of the main issues which may arise in a stepparent adoption is that concerning the consent of both birth parents. If your spouse divorced the child’s birth parent and was granted custody, it is still possible that the other birth parent will not wish to give consent for the adoption. This can present a unique problem that should be addressed immediately. If there have not been support and/or communication for a specific period of time, that may constitute consent though legal process (service and opportunity to be heard) need to be followed nonetheless.

What are the benefits of a stepparent adoption?

Adopting your stepchild is a selfless act which brings your family closer together. You may wish to seek a stepparent adoption so you can truly be the child’s parent in the eyes of the law. You will also have rights in regards to custody and making decisions about the child’s medical needs, education and more.

FAQs for Birth Parents

What is “consent to adoption”?

Because the rights of the birth parents are not terminated in a stepparent adoption, the birth parent or parents must give their consent. In giving their consent, the birth parents are allowing for the stepparent to adopt the child and therefore gain legal rights and responsibilities as a parent.

What happens if I consent, but my child’s other birth parent does not?

If your spouse is the one seeking to adopt your child, you may be happy about the idea. However, your ex may not wish to give his or her consent. If you are the custodial parent, there may be ways around this, wherein your spouse can still adopt your child. It is important to talk to an adoption attorney about your unique situation in this regard in order to determine what rights you have and what you can do to go through with the adoption even without the other birth parent’s consent.

What are some benefits to a stepparent adoption?

In adopting your child, your spouse will be granted both rights and responsibility as a parent. Should anything happen to you, you can be certain that your child is where you want him or her to be. A stepparent adoption is often just the legal seal that finalizes all the parenting your spouse has done anyway and confirms your spouse’s desire to truly be your child’s father or mother. This adoption can bring your family even closer together, emotionally and in the eyes of the law.

Is this process more complicated than other types of adoption?

Usually, a stepparent adoption is actually simpler than other forms of adoption. This is due to the fact that the birth parents’ rights do not need to be terminated.

Will my rights as the birth parent be terminated?

No. You will still retain your rights as a birth parent, even if your spouse successfully adopts your child.

Contact our firm to speak with our Family Law Attorneys