Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Step-Parent adoption in Utah

There are many reasons for a couple or individual to adopt. The image the pops into many people's minds is that of the couple who want to have children but are unable to conceive. While this is the more visible form of adoption, the other less visible forms can be just as meaningful and life changing for those involved. There is one type of adoption that doesn't involve bringing a child into a stranger's home, and that is step-parent adoption.

Step-parent adoption is also fairly common, but unlike other forms of adoption, the child and the adopting parent already have a relationship. Step-parent adoption occurs when the adopting parent is married to the child's custodial parent, and wishes to adopt the child. Outside of emotional reasons this type of adoption is usually done for tax, insurance, and inheritance purposes.

In Utah, all parties must consent to the adoption in order for the process to be completed. Before starting the adoption, the child must have lived with the custodial parent and step-parent for a year, and be at least ten years younger than the adopting parent. If consent is not given by a non-custodial parent, the adoption may have to be litigated. When a non-custodial parent consents and signs the appropriate document, it acts as a relinquishment of parental rights, thereby terminating the parental rights of the non-custodial parent.

If one or more party does not consent, that party must file a motion to intervene. The motion to intervene can be granted or denied by the judge. If the motion to intervene is granted, the filing party will be allowed to voice his or her concerns over the adoption. When the intervening party is the non-custodial parent, he or she can object to having his or her parental rights terminated.

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