Adopting a stepchild is more than just a process to solidify a family connection. There are binding legal responsibilities that result from adoption that can last a lifetime.
There are legal benefits to consider when it comes to adopting your stepchild. Once the process is complete, the adoptive parent then becomes the legal parent, which in Arizona gives them specific parenting rights regardless of the status of the marriage between them and their spouse. If the adoptive parent and the natural parent were to divorce, the adoptive parent would retain the same rights that the natural parent would, including visitation and child custody, giving them the opportunity to have an ongoing relationship with the child.
The adoptive parent also takes on the same financial responsibilities that a natural parent would and they have an obligation to provide the child with food, shelter, education and health care, even after divorce.
The process for adoption depends on the circumstances.
If the natural parent of a child is deceased or has legally given up their parental rights, the remaining legal parent/stepparent may file a “Petition to Adopt” as long as the child is not a ward of the court.
If the natural parent is still alive and has legal parental rights, the parent must sign a “Consent to Adoption,’ which the courts will only consider if it is signed by the parent giving up legal parental rights.
The following requirements must apply before adoption can be completed:
- A child that is 12 years old or older must give consent to the adoption in open court
- Any legal guardian of the child must consent to the adoption
- Any agency responsible for the child must consent to the adoption
- Any guardian of an adult parent must consent to the adoption
If you are looking to adopt your stepchild, look to the Glendale family law attorneys at The Sampair Group for more information. Visit us today at www.sampair.com for a free consultation.