Stepparent Adoptions

STEPPARENT / RELATIVE ADOPTIONS
Building Arizona Families is not a law firm and the following information is not intended to act as legal advice.

There are many legal and emotional reasons for a stepparent or family member to adopt a child in Arizona. Reasons for Stepparent / Relative Adoptions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Custody in the event of a parental death
  • The right to inherit
  • The right to social security should the stepparent die
  • Legal authority to talk to the child’s schools, to pick a child up at school or daycare, and to make emergency medical decisions for the child
  • The same last name as other family members

SEVERANCE AND ADOPTION INFORMATION

X X Stepparents can adopt their stepchildren with the consent of the birth parent or after a termination of the birth parent’s parental rights. A court hearing granting the termination of parental rights is held in all cases.
X X The rights of a birth father depend on whether he is/was married to the mother of the child. Married fathers have more rights than unmarried fathers. There are different methods authorized under Arizona law to address fathers’ rights.
X X If a birth parent is unknown or cannot be located, a termination and/or adoption can still be completed by taking the necessary steps to provide grounds for termination and reasonable notice.
X X Unless waived by the court, a severance social study must be completed by a licensed agency and submitted to the court prior to the court hearing regarding the termination of parental rights.
X A stepparent may legally adopt their stepchild following the termination of the birth parent’s parental rights if the stepparent has been legally married to the stepchild’s birth or legal parent for at least one year and if the stepparent has lived with the stepchild for at least six months.
X An adult relative may adopt a related child following the termination of the birth parent’s parental rights if the adult relative is the child’s adult sibling by whole or half blood or is the child’s aunt, uncle, grandparent, or great-grandparent and the child has resided with the prospective adoptive relative for at least six months.

NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN STEPPARENT ADOPTIONS

On March 13, 2012, the Arizona Legislature amended Arizona Revised Statute Section 8-112 to provide that the social study required for an adoption of a child by a stepparent or immediate relative shall consist only of a state and federal criminal records check (i.e. fingerprinting) and a central registry check (i.e. child abuse clearance) if:

  1. The prospective adoptive parent is the child’s stepparent who has been legally married to the child’s birth or legal parent for at least one year and has resided with the child for at least six months.
  2. The prospective adoptive parent is the child’s adult sibling by whole or half blood or is the child’s aunt, uncle, grandparent or great-grandparent and the child has resided with the prospective adoptive relative for at least six months.