When you divorce and remarry, you may become one of the blended families that are becoming more common across Utah and, indeed, the United States. As these families become closer, numerous Salt Lake City residents seek to adopt their spouse’s children, taking the legal step towards becoming a parent, rather than a step-parent. Aside from strengthening the familial bond, there are strong legal reasons for choosing to adopt, and when you choose to take this route, it is important to entrust the handling of your case to an esteemed Salt Lake City family law attorney.
Whatever your reasons behind moving to adopt your stepchildren, a family law attorney from The Ault Firm can provide the expert legal aid and representation you require.
Stepchild Adoption in Salt Lake City – How it Works
Stepchild adoption, in the eyes of the Utah legal system, has some key differences when compared to traditional adoption, and you must be familiar with each of these before proceeding. Firstly, you must be at least ten years older than the stepchild you wish to adopt, married to the custodial parent, and have been living with the custodial parent and the child for at least one year. In the majority of cases, with some exceptions, you will also require consent from several parties, including:
- Your spouse, as the child’s custodial parent
- The child themselves, if at least 12 years of age
- The child’s non-custodial parent
- The child’s court-appointed guardian, where appropriate
It may be possible for the stepchild adoption to proceed even where the non-custodial parent refuses to give their consent, but the process will become incredibly complex at this point. Through appointing a Salt Lake City family law attorney to handle your stepchild adoption at the outset, you can rest assured that a legal expert is preparing for every eventuality.
Although each case is likely to be slightly different, the general order of stepchild adoptions in Salt Lake City, and elsewhere in Utah is as follows:
- You, as the stepparent, must undergo a criminal background check
- Investigations into any likelihood of abuse or neglect will be carried out
- Once both criteria have been satisfied, you will be cleared by the Division of Child and Family Services Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Utah Child Abuse Registry
- At this point, you are free to file your Petition to Adopt a Minor Stepchild with the relevant court
- Consent from all parties must be provided now, or else they should be served with your Notice of Petition to Adopt, and Notice of Rights, and given 30 days to respond
- When consent has been received, and any obstacles have been navigated, a hearing will be scheduled, during which you will sign the Adoption Agreement, and the judge will conclude by issuing the Adoption Decree
In reality, the process is often more complex than this, particularly where the non-custodial parent is loath to consent. However, your Salt Lake City family law attorney has the knowledge and experience necessary for overcoming this.