Parents in Arizona have a rewarding yet challenging job, and when you’re a stepparent, you might face additional difficulties as you play an important role in a child’s life. Many stepparents decide to adopt their stepchildren, but they may have to deal with a few legal hurdles to accomplish this task.
If you’re thinking about adopting your stepchild, you probably have a lot of questions about the process. Here are a few things you should know about adopting a stepchild.
You must get consent from the child’s parents
In all stepparent adoption cases, consent from the child’s parents is required unless the birth parent’s parental rights have been terminated. Getting consent from the child’s parents can be difficult because it will require them to give up all of their parental rights. If the non-custodial parents agree to the adoption, they might have to appear in court.
You begin the process by filing a petition with the court
To begin the process of adoption, you’ll need to obtain the proper paperwork and submit it to the court. Petitions often include numerous forms, and you’ll have to submit documents such as:
- Copies of birth certificates
- Divorce decrees
- Marriage certificates
You should consider hiring an attorney
Although it’s not required to hire an attorney, doing so might make the process much easier. Child custody cases may be hard enough, but stepchild adoption cases can be very complicated. If you’re not confident that you can handle the legal process on your own, an attorney may help guide you through each step.
Making the decision to adopt your stepchild means that you’ll be legally responsible for them. Before moving forward, take time to think about whether you, your spouse and your stepchild are ready to make such a big step together.