Adoption is a wonderful way to start a family, especially if you cannot conceive. But it’s not always easy — significant legal requirements and expenses are involved.
This post will outline the process of adopting a step-child in Arizona from beginning to end: what has to be done, where you can find more information, and any fees associated with the step-child adoption process.
Get started with the adoption process and build your family with the help of CHM Law.
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In Arizona, any adult over 18 years old who is a US citizen or has legal permanent residency status can be considered for step-parent adoption.
Any adult convicted of a felony is ineligible for stepchild adoption.
If you are married, one spouse can adopt the other spouse’s step-child, but it should be understood that there could be complications during divorce proceedings.
A legal step-parent can adopt only if the natural parent legally consents.
What Does The Adoption Process Look Like?
It is independent or private if you file for adoption without involving the child’s parents. You’ll need to obtain a court order from the Court of Appeals and petition your local superior court for approval. The natural parents should be legally represented through this process and can object to the stepchild’s adoption at any time in proceedings.
If the child’s parents are on board with the stepchild adoption, your adoption will progress much more smoothly.
You and your spouse can choose to adopt jointly, meaning you’ll be listed as parents on the birth certificate, and both of you will have legal standing in the adoption. Or you may choose to adopt individually, meaning that one or both of you would adopt a step-child, and only your name would appear on the child’s birth certificate.
This is not something that the Arizona Court will consider, so you’ll need to petition the court separately.
The Steps of the Process are as Follows:
1. Petition Drafting
Your adoption attorney or adoption law firm will draft the petition for the court and include all of the relevant information required to begin proceedings.
A $200 filing fee will be returned to you if you are approved and granted custody.
2. Parent Consent
You and your spouse can choose to adopt jointly or individually, as outlined above.
The parents must sign an adoption release stating they are willing to legalize the adoption and consent to it being finalized.
This document is called an Order of Legal Consent or an Order of Legal Consent on Proposed Adoption with a Notice of Right To Object. The time and contents of consent are outlined under Arizona Revised Statute 8-107.
You provide this petition to the court, along with a filing fee (amount varies by county) and a Certificate of Service, proving that you notified all interested parties of your petition and have their contact details.
Your adoption attorney then files a Notice of Hearing with the court, on which date is set for your hearing date at least 30 days in advance. Filing your petition with the court and giving notice to parents and interested parties costs approximately $1,000, depending on your county.
You’ll need to give a copy of your petition to the child’s parents and other interested individuals or parties. This costs approximately $60-$100 each, depending on how many people need to be notified of their right to contest.
5. Court Hearing
On the scheduled hearing date, you’ll need to attend and make your case to the Judge in front of a crowd, including your parents and any other interested individuals or parties. You’ll need to provide:
Proof that you are over 21
Your identification documents (including all names used previously)
Court-issued family court paper if applicable (RTF 560 form required if not married). Depending on your county, you will spend approximately $300-$500 on legal fees.
If the court approves your step-child adoption, you will now need to take the following actions:
Apply for an Arizona birth certificate that specifies your name as a parent. You’ll also be asked to provide a DNA test, which may cost approximately $100.
Register the step-child adoption in Phoenix. This will cost you $262 and will take about six months to process.
If you are adopting a step-child and not marrying the other parent, you must obtain a marriage license.
If you are married and want to adopt your spouse’s step-child, you must obtain a decree of adoption from the Arizona Superior Court. This costs $100 in filing fees, plus the associated court costs (varies by county). The decree is good for only two years and must be renewed if you decide to remain part of the child’s life.
What If The Adoption Seems Too Complicated To Handle?
If you think your stepchild adoption process isn’t going as smoothly, help is available.
You can always contact an adoption attorney or adoption law firm to discuss the matter and see if they can assist in simplifying things.
If you decide to contact the Arizona Court directly, you must provide a court-appointed adoption attorney or adoption law firm who will be advocating on your behalf. This can cost around $200+.
What Are The Benefits Of Step-parent Adoption?
Step-parent adoptions are often more efficient than other adoptions because they do not require involvement from biological parents.
Instead, parents can get a step-parent who can adopt or have children.
Another advantage of step-parent adoption in Arizona is that it allows the step-parent to continue raising the child as his own without being subject to the court and laws of the biological parent. When people adopt children they do not know, they become adoptive children.
Still, in a step-parent adoption, they retain all of their rights as though they were biologically related.
Adoptions are a substantial part of the lifecycle of life for children, whether adopted by a parent, a family member, or even individual friends. Unfortunately, step-parent adoption in Arizona can be risky and sometimes has to be executed under severe circumstances.
Step-parent adoption in Arizona can be helpful in custody battles.
For example, a parent may not be fit to raise a child, which can cause difficulties in custody battles. Therefore, the court will consider the step-parent fit to take care of the child by having a step-parent adopt the child.
Step-parent adoption in Arizona also helps prevent an unwanted pregnancy from occurring. Some people may be willing to get married if they know their partner already has ” the baby, ” but it may not necessarily be for them.
Termination of Parental Rights
Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) is the legal procedure by which a parent is removed from having any legal rights from their child.
A Juvenile Court Judge may make such an order if sufficient evidence has been presented that this is in the child’s best interest.
TPR does not prevent a biological parent from requesting the re-establishment of their parental rights.
However, several factors may lead to a Juvenile Court Judge ordering TPR.
Such factors include:
Abandonment of the child for at least one year and failure to communicate with the child throughout this period.
Abuse, neglect, or unfitness (includes physical, sexual, or mental abuse)
The inability of the parent to support the child, including if they are incarcerated.
Placement of the child in foster care for at least 12 consecutive months.
The Bottom Line
Step-parent adoption can be a difficult process to go through. Arizona has some of the strictest guidelines and requirements for adopting a child in the United States.
Still, it can be accomplished relatively quickly with the help of an adoption attorney or an accomplished adoption law firm.
If you are a step-parent interested in adopting another parent’s child, contact CHM Law or visit our website for more information.
CHM Law Can Assist You in the Adoption Process
When searching for a Phoenix adoption lawyer, it is important to find an attorney who has experience handling family law cases and is familiar with the local court system.
Thankfully, the attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta have decades of real experience in handling such matters and a proven track record of success in adoption cases.
Give the legal team at CHM Law a call now at (602) 825-2500, so they can immediately get started on helping you begin the adoption process as a step-parent.
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