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Adoption: a positive encounter with the legal system

When most Salt Lake City residents think of encounters with the legal system, they may envision negative scenarios like criminal charges, bankruptcy or being sued in a civil case. Fortunately, not every encounter with the legal system has a negative connotation with it.

One of the best examples of this is in cases of adoption, which are often joyous occasions where families celebrate the formal addition of a new member to the family. Joyous as these cases may be, they still require certain legal steps to be satisfied in order for the adoption to take place.

For instance, in cases involving a stepparent adoption, there are a number of adoption issues that must be considered. Utah law requires the adopting stepparent to be married to the child’s custodial parent, for the adopting parent or his or her spouse to be at least 10 years older than the child and for the child to have lived with the custodial parent and the stepparent for one year. However, the last requirement can be waived in certain circumstances by the judge.

The procedure for adoption may vary depending on whether everyone involves consents to the adoption. In cases where consent is obtained from all involved, the process is fairly straightforward. Certain documentation must be filed to process the adoption, and a hearing is then held where the judge can ask questions and further documents can be signed. Finally, the judge can then sign the Adoption Decree to formalize the adoption.

Further steps are required when someone does not consent or waive his or her rights. In these cases, the objecting person must be served a notice with the case and be given an opportunity to intervene in the matter. Once that person is in the case, they can present evidence and try to make a case as to why the adoption should not occur as requested.

Accordingly, while adoptions can be a positive experience, they demand care and effort to ensure the legal requirements are satisfied. Once the procedures are followed, individuals can put themselves in the best position possible to obtain their goal of adoption.

Source: Utah Courts, “Adopting a minor stepchild,” Accessed July 4, 2015

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Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law
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