Can a Stepparent (or new spouse) Legally Adopt My Child in Arizona?

When you get divorced and have children, many legalities arise and always complicate the divorce process and possibly your and your children’s future. For Example, if you remarry, your new spouse may want to “unify” the family and formally adopt your children.

There are legal and emotional benefits to taking this step, but exact legal processes must be followed.

As a stepparent who adopts your stepchild, you will usually enhance and strengthen your family connection and make you closer to your stepchildren. Also, as the stepparent, this is a way for you to assume full legal responsibilities for your stepchildren, just as “biological” parents do.

Once your children are adopted, the “step-parent” has the same legal, financial, and personal obligations to care for the children involved as any biological parent. 

However, this is never a simple decision under Arizona law that the biological parent (if alive) will commonly not take it lightly. After all, they relinquish their parental rights to the new adoptive parent.

So, although Arizona law does allow for this adoption, it is almost always a complicated legal process. Therefore the advice and legal guidance of a Phoenix Family Adoption Lawyer is mandatory, in our opinion.

If a decision to adopt a stepchild is made, the biological parent relinquishing their parental rights must complete a “Consent to Adopt” form. Then you (as the other natural parent) and the stepparent must also complete a “Petition to Adopt” form.

This is not always an easy task, but the adoption will usually be finalized if there are no issues with consent (and possibly other legal requirements).

Every case of this type commonly differs. Consulting with a professional Arizona Family Adoption Lawyer will allow you to obtain all the options and possible roadblocks you may have to overcome. The good news is that it can be accomplished with your adoption lawyer’s empathetic and knowledgeable help.

What Are Some Requirements for Adopting My Stepchild in Arizona?

So, although adopting your stepchildren in Arizona is possible, some specific legal requirements must be met.

Adopting a stepchild often will give your child (and family) a feeling of permanency. This is especially true if your stepchild doesn’t have a relationship with their other biological parent.

However, before proceeding with the adoption, you (as a stepparent) must have your spouse’s consent to adopt. You should also reside with the child for at least six months before the adoption can take place.

If the child is over twelve years old, the child must consent to adoption.

If your stepchild’s other natural parent consents to the adoption, the process may be relatively easy. But, if the parent disapproves, the termination of their parental rights is required before your adoption.

Usually, you, as the adoptive parent, will need to pass a DCS central registry records clearance, and the minor child’s attendance at the adoption hearing is mandatory unless waived by the court.

You must note the requirements mentioned above are just a few of those needed, as each case of this type usually varies. Therefore, consult a professional Phoenix adoption law team before you move forward. Your adoption lawyer will analyze your case thoroughly and ensure you follow the correct legal path.

If My Ex-Spouse Objects To The Adoption, Can I Terminate Their Parental Rights?

If your ex-spouse doesn’t consent to the stepparent adoption, you have legal options to terminate their parental rights, but you must show cause.

This process becomes “sticky,” but one of the first steps is to have your adoption law team file a “Petition to Terminate.” After your ex-spouse has been served, they will receive a “Notice of Hearing.”

It’s valuable to know that abandonment is the most common ground for parental termination. So, ending their parental rights may still be challenging, but your experienced adoption lawyer will determine how to present your case best.

There commonly will be at least one hearing scheduled, then, if necessary, a trial.

If termination of parental rights becomes necessary, the consultation, advice, and guidance of your Arizona Adoption Lawyer will be invaluable to obtaining your final goals.

What Are Some Other Grounds For Termination of Parental Rights?

As stated, if your ex-spouse consents to adopt their biological child, the proper legal steps must still be taken, but the process is simplified.

However, if that is not the case, then you and your current spouse have options allowing you to show grounds for terminating your ex’s parental rights.

Some of these grounds for parental termination rights are any one of the following:

  • The most common is that the other biological parent has abandoned their child.
  • The other parent has neglected or willfully abused the child. This abuse may include physical or emotional injury to the child in various ways.
  • The other parent cannot provide proper and needed parental responsibilities due to mental illness, mental deficiency, or a history of chronic abuse of dangerous drugs.
  • The other parent has been deprived of their civil liberties and convicted of a felony. Usually, the length of incarceration would prove that the parent is unable to care for or have custody of their child and prohibit a normal parent – child relationship.

These are only some examples of grounds that could be used by your experienced adoption lawyer that would possibly convince the Arizona courts to terminate your ex-spouse’s parental rights.

You must note that although this path may be necessary, it is commonly a complex one to follow. Your Phoenix adoption law team may have to gather evidence, photos, witnesses, and more. However, in the end, your adoption lawyer will work tirelessly and diligently to do what’s right for you and your children.

My Ex’s New Spouse Wants to Adopt My Children; How Should I Proceed?

This is a difficult situation no matter which side of it you may be on; If you get divorced, and your ex-spouse remarries, and they want to adopt your kids, or you remarry, and you and your new spouse want to adopt.

Where children are involved, emotions, stress, and tempers can flare up and worsen the situation. However, commonly you both want what’s best for your children.

So, you must get the best legal advice possible. Call (480)-268-9393 and consult with the knowledgeable, empathetic, aggressive, and winning adoption lawyers at the Arizona Family Law Attorneys. Whatever your situation, problem, or question, their help will be invaluable for you and your family’s future.