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How Does Step-Parent Adoption Work in Arizona?

Law Office of Tad Davis May 20, 2018

You’ve married the person of your dreams, and to top it off, you also have step children that you love like they were your own. Now you want to adopt them and make your new family complete.
Adoption represents a powerful bond between you and your new children because you will be saying to the world that they are now legally your children, along with all the responsibilities that that role comes with. After all, you will also be playing a huge role in helping to guide them into adulthood.

While almost any adult can file a petition to adopt a child, the process is typically easier for a step-parent.

Even with that, there are still certain basic requirements that will need to be met according to Arizona step-parent adoption laws like:

  • You will need to have a criminal record check, including fingerprinting, to make sure that you have not faced any child abuse or child neglect charges.

  • You will need to have been legally married to the child’s legal parent for a minimum of 1 year.

  • You will have to have lived in the same household as the child for at least 6 months.

  • If the child is 12 years or older, you will need to have his or her consent to be adopted.

If you have met those requirements, the first step will be to file a petition for adoption. In Maricopa County, the adoption petition forms are available at the County Attorney’s Office. Once the forms have been completed, you should contact the County Attorney’s Office to find out where to file the forms.

The next step is for the other biological parent, presumably your current spouse’s ex, to relinquish his or her parental rights to proceed with the adoption. Remember that both parents do not need to relinquish their parental rights, only the parent that will no longer be involved in the child’s life. If that parent consents to the adoption, then they can voluntarily relinquish their parental rights. If they refuse, on the other hand, then you might need to file a petition to have the court terminate the parent’s rights. Arizona statute § 8-533 describes who can file a petition and under what grounds.

Once the biological parents’ parental rights have been relinquished, you will need to prepare for the adoption hearing. While you are waiting for the adoption hearing, you will primarily responsible for the child’s welfare. Since you will likely already be taking on that role, it should not be difficult.

During the adoption hearing, the judge will review the paperwork and confirm that all of the requirements have been met and that the other parent has relinquished their parental rights. The judge will then confirm that you aware of the full scope of the responsibility that you are taking on. If all goes well, the judge will then sign the decree of adoption and any other related documents.

The adoption process may seem relatively simple and straightforward, but the reality is far from it. The process of adopting a stepchild is a complex legal undertaking with many pitfalls that can easily trap someone who is not experienced in the process. The attorneys at the Law Office of Tad Davis have extensive experience in Arizona family law and adoption. Call us today and let our experienced team help you make this process as simple and rewarding as possible.