When most people think about adoption, they tend to think about the process of adopting a newborn or infant child who they have never met.
While this type of adoption certainly accounts for a significant percentage of adoptions that take place in Arizona, there are also circumstances in which a relative or a stepparent wishes to adopt a child.
There are a number of ways in which this scenario can arise. For example, perhaps a parent remarries years after having a child with another person and his or her new spouse would like to officially become the parent of a child who is already in their household.
In other cases, a grandparent is already acting as the parent of a child due to financial or personal reasons and would like to make their relationship official in the eyes of the law.
The Benefits of Stepparent and Relative Adoption
Whatever the reason, relative and stepparent adoptions are generally very similar to other types of adoption in Arizona. In any adoption, parental rights of the birth parents are terminated and transferred to the adoptive parents.
Some of the benefits of stepparent and relative adoption include the following:
- Allowing children to inherit assets without any further action
- Establishing legal standing as a parent regarding any litigation that may arise in the future
- Having the right to make important decisions regarding the way a child is raised and regarding medical decisions
- Establishing a sense of stability in the household
The Stepparent and Relative Adoption Process in Arizona
In order for a relative or stepparent to adopt a child in Arizona, the birth parents of the child must consent, the parental rights must be terminated by a court, or circumstances must exist that justify the adoption proceedings without the birth parent’s consent.
Next, prior to adopting, a social study of your home may be needed in which an accredited agency evaluates the environment in which the child will be raised.
Fortunately for many stepparents or relatives who are seeking to adopt a child, this requirement is significantly easier for them than it is for other adoptive parents.
Under an Arizona law passed in 2012, the social study will only consist of fingerprinting or a central registry (child abuse clearance) check if:
- The prospective adoptive parent is the child’s stepparent who has been legally married to the child’s birth or legal parent for at least one year and the child has resided with the stepparent and parent for at least six months.
- The prospective adoptive parent is the child’s adult sibling, by whole or half blood, or the child’s aunt, uncle, grandparent or great‑grandparent and the child has resided with the prospective adoptive parent for at least six months.
Finally, a stepparent or relative will need to petition a court in order to make the adoption official.
Because of the complicated nature of stepparent and relative adoptions, it is highly advisable for anyone pursuing one to do so with the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
Contact Stuart & Blackwell to Learn More about Relative and Stepparent Adoption
If you are a stepparent or relative who would like to establish parental rights in a loved one, you should call the attorneys at Stuart & Blackwell to discuss your case.
To schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers, call us today at 480-420-2900 or contact us online.