What is the process to adopt a stepchild?

A variety of situations can lead someone to adoption. One of these situations is one in which you have a relationship with a stepchild, and wish to formally adopt him or her. The fact that a child is not your biological child does not hinder the nurturing, positive relationship that can develop between parent and child.

While adopting a child that you do not already know can be a great way to bring a child into a family’s life—and provide a home for a child who needs one—when a stepparent adopts a child, they already have a relationship.

Adoption, for legal purposes, can be the last step in this process to finalize the formalities of this preexisting bond.

At Stuart & Blackwell, we have dealt with a range of familial situations and are with you every step of the way to assist you with all the legal aspects of the process. This post will briefly discuss stepchild adoption in the state of Arizona.

There are several steps that are necessary to complete prior to finalizing a step-parent adoption.

These include:

  • a criminal record check (completed via a fingerprinting technology service as well as from registry records, which will show that you have not been to court for child abuse)
  • lawful marriage to the child’s parent for at least one year
  • to have lived with the child for at least six months
  • and, if the child is 12 or over, consent from the child

It is also worth noting here that the laws in Arizona for same-sex couples are the same.

What are the steps?

First, is for the birth parent to give up their legal rights to the child. They can consent to this, or if they are unwilling to consent you will have to go through the process to terminate their parental rights. If you believe the other birth parent will not consent you should consult with an attorney about the grounds for which termination of parental rights can be sought.

Second, you will need to file a petition for adoption, which will contain a lot of basic information about you, such as your name; where you live; whether you are married; and your relationship to the child. This petition will also include information like the current custody arrangement; the name, date, and place of birth for the child; and a description of the child’s property.

Third, you need to get ready for the hearing. However, before the hearing, you are often responsible for the wellbeing of the child, including aspects of the child’s life like medical procedures.

Fourth, you must go to the adoption hearing, which should happen within a few months of filing the adoption petition.

The last, the final step is to finalize the adoption and start your new life with your child.

Contact Stuart & Blackwell

At Stuart & Blackwell, we know that these processes can be long and stressful. We want to be here for you to take care of any and all legal matters that may arise, so you do not have to worry about them. Contact us today for high-quality legal services, and you can rest assured you have a great team supporting you during an exciting time. Contact us at (480) 420 2900 today for your free consultation.

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