If you’re a stepparent in Arizona, you may have developed a close relationship with your stepchild. You don’t need to be a biological parent to love a child as your own.
In such cases, you might wonder whether you should formalize the relationship through adoption. In order to adopt your stepchild, the parent to whom you’re not married must give up their parental rights. If that seems like a real possibility, you are in a position to consider adoption.
Reasons to adopt
The potential benefits of stepparent adoption are many:
• Once you adopt your stepchild, you will be their legal parent. Just as other adoptive parents have all the same rights as traditional biological parents, so will you. You’ll have the right to make choices about your stepchild’s schooling, medical care and more.
• Even if you and your spouse divorce, you will continue to have parental rights. You’ll be able to insist on a child custody agreement and stay involved in your stepchild’s life. Of course, you’ll also have obligations like potentially paying child support, but this might not trouble you if you love your stepchild as your own.
• Adoption might simplify estate planning issues later. Your stepchild will be an heir.
• If your spouse passes away, being your stepchild’s adoptive parent will increase your chances of being your child’s guardian. Otherwise, your spouse’s family will have a good chance of removing the child from your care.
• If your stepchild loves you like a parent, adoption could make the child feel happier and more secure in your relationship.
Adopting a stepchild is always a weighty choice, but it’s right for some families. If you’re interested in becoming your stepchild’s legal parent, you might benefit from contacting an attorney with experience in child custody.