Step-family Adoption

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Have you thought about adopting your step child, or the child you have been raising for many years?

The happiest family law cases are when families are unified through adoption.  It is a time for celebration and for photos at the court hearing granting the adoption as an order.  McMurdie Law Office and WHYmediate Mediation Services has been delighted to handle the adoption of minor children and adult children as well! With the increase of blended families, step family adoption is a normal step for a family who desires to solidify and protect their legal rights as parents and as children. This process requires cooperation from all parties involved, including both of the stepchild’s biological parents, if both are still living.

The noncustodial biological parent must first relinquish his or her parental rights in order to allow a stepparent to move forward with a step-family adoption in Arizona. They can do this by signing a Consent to Terminate their parental rights and a Consent to Adopt. A contested termination of parental rights requires substantial evidence to convince the court that terminating a parent’s rights is in the best interest of the child and the biological parent. This must be done first, of course, before the adoption can take place.

Adopting a stepchild can be a complicated process. This is considered a significant legal action that requires a home study by an adoption agency that is licensed to testify of their evaluation of the family and provide a report that the family is certified to adopt.  Once you make the decision to begin the process of a step-family adoption, the natural parent must complete a “Consent to Adopt” form and the stepparent, as well as the other biological parent, must file a “Petition to Adopt” to open up the case with the court.  However, often the Petition to Terminate is filed simultaneously with the Petition to Adopt, even though they are essentially two different cases.

After adoption, the adopting stepparent has the same financial and personal obligation to care for the child and provide for his or her basic needs. They are held by the law to have all the same rights and responsibilities as a biological parent. This adoption decision should never be taken lightly because the process is more complicated than commonly thought and requires clear and convincing evidence to achieve, a higher standard of evidence.  Attorney fees involved surround essentially two distinct cases and thus they are often twice as much as a family may at first anticipate. Before requesting that a biological parent relinquish his or her rights, the stepparent must weigh their decision carefully by consulting with an attorney who is experienced in both terminations and adoptions. Contact us at (480) 777-5500 for information on how McMurdie Law Office and WHYmediate Mediation Services may assist you in your Petition to Adopt.

Frank S – February 2014

Have known Cristi and her office for years! Great service she provides to the public and her clients. She goes out if her way to ensure clients are happy. If you need legal work in the area of family law and want to get great service at a very fair price then hire Cristi. You ...

Kristin B – June 2015

I have not only been a client of Ms. McMurdie, but have referred many of my friends to her.  She is honest, fair and reliable.  I have used her services for more than 15 years and would use her again if necessary. She is the best divorce lawyer in the Phoenix area.  She will go ...