Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

How do I start the stepparent adoption process?

It is important that readers of this Salt Lake City family law blog know that every case, whether it concerns a divorce, prenuptial agreement or adoption, will follow its own course based on the facts related to its occurrence. For this reason individuals with questions about the stepparent adoption process are asked to speak with their legal advisers about how the procedure will proceed for them.

However, there are several basic requirements for stepparent adoption that apply in practically all cases, and those general issues will be discussed herein. First, in order for a stepparent adoption to occur a child's noncustodial biological parent must terminate their parental rights to the child.

The termination of parental rights may happen in a number of ways. If the noncustodial parent is deceased this requirement is clearly fulfilled. If the noncustodial parent voluntarily relinquishes their rights, this requirement is met. It is not uncommon, though, for a noncustodial biological parent to contest a stepparent adoption and seek to preserve their parental rights to their child.

In cases where a noncustodial biological parent will not consent to a stepparent adoption a stepparent and the child's custodial parent may have to show that the noncustodial parent's rights should be terminated. This can be achieved in a number of ways, such as showing the noncustodial parent is unfit to be a parent or by proving the noncustodial parent really is not the child's biological parent through paternity testing.

Stepparent adoptions allow individuals to make their spouses' kids their own children and bring families together. They can be complicated legal matters and it is important that those who wish to complete the process utilize the services of dedicated family law attorneys.

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