Adopting a Minor Stepchild in Utah
With the amount of blended families in this country during this modern age of divorce and remarriage, it’s only going to be natural to discuss how to adopt a stepchild. As a stepparent you have an important duty to take on the guidance of your spouse’s child. It comes with love, understanding, and clear definition of your role as a stepparent. This isn’t easy to come by. Going through the process can take time and the right attorney to guide you through the process. Step-parent adoptions have a different set of procedures to follow than a regular adoption in Utah. One of the main stipulations is that the child being adopted must live with the custodial parent and the new stepparent for the time of at least one year before you even start the Utah adoption. There must also be written consent or a waiver from the other biological/non-custodial parent to allow the adoption to proceed. If this consent isn’t received, then the process becomes a bit more complex involving a trial that will determine what is in the best interest of the child at stake.
Why Adopt a Stepchild?
An adoption makes the step parent the legal parent of the minor child or children in the marriage. This can help the family situation in a number of ways. For one it can solidify and strengthen the total family bond. For blended families where there are children from previous marriages on both sides, it can make the family feel more whole and complete. It emphasizes the love and importance of being a new family. Plus, it does allow the stepparent to make medical decisions for the child, and for the child to receive health insurance benefits that they might not get without being legally adopted. For the future it will allow inheritance to go much smoother between stepparent and stepchild.
Utah Stepparent Adoption Laws
Before the Utah adoption of a stepchild goes through there are a list of things that must be fulfilled.
- Adopting parent must be married to custodial parent
- Adopting parent must be 10 years older than the child
- Living with the child for more than one year
- All consent in writing from non-custodial parent
- File all documents correctly
- Attend all hearings
After these steps have been taken, the judge will decide whether to grant the adoption decree. The procedure isn’t that complicated if all the steps are followed correctly. Your biggest problem is only going to be if the non-custodial parent doesn’t give consent. Then it’s a much more complex procedure, and will take more time to untangle. Hopefully for all involved this won’t be your issue.
If The Non-Custodial Parent Doesn’t Consent
If this happens then here is what will take place to move the process along. The person who is the non-custodial parent will be served a Notice of Petition to Adopt and Notice of Rights. They will be given up to 30 days to file a motion to intervene or stop the adoption proceedings. If this isn’t done, then the adoption hearing can go ahead without interference. A default judgement might have to be made by the judge in favor of the custodial and adopting stepparent. If the judge grants the motion to intervene then the intervenor, as the child’s parent, does have the right to present their case as to why the stepparent shouldn’t be allowed to adopt the minor child. This extended form of litigation might go through a lengthy appeals process. If this does happen we can help you every step of the way at Wall and Wall Attorneys.
How Long Does It Take to Complete the Adoption?
After all the correct paperwork is filed for the adoption, then the court will schedule the hearing as soon as time for the court allows it. Keep in mind if the non-custodial parent intervenes it will extend it by at least 30 days at the minimum; it just depends on the specific circumstances of your case, and how much conflict surrounds it with all the parties involved. Overall though, without complications the adoption will be finalized in a reasonable amount of time.
Wall & Wall Attorneys at Law Are Experienced Stepparent Adoption Attorneys
We are more than happy to help you navigate the legal landscape of your Utah stepparent adoption proceedings. We completely understand how important this time is for your family. It does mean a great deal to us to allow our firm to assist you in this valuable task. Let us have a free 30-minute conversation with you so you can obtain all the information you need to get started. Getting this important process accomplished correctly for you and your family is one of our top priorities, and we are more than pleased with the results it will provide for you.