Category Archives: Child Custody

Adopting a Stepchild In Arizona

Adopting a Stepchild In Arizona

Dedicated Phoenix Family Lawyers Explain Everything About Adopting a Stepchild In Arizona

It’s a modern classic romance- you meet the one, and one or both of you has children from a previous relationship. You get married and create a happy blended family. You may even want to adopt your partner’s child as your own. If so, you are probably wondering how to go about adopting your partner’s stepchild, and if it is even possible for you. Read on to learn what our dedicated Phoenix family lawyers have to say about adopting a stepchild in Arizona.

Phoenix Family Lawyers Explain Everything About Adopting a Stepchild In Arizona

What Are The Benefits Of Adopting a Stepchild?

There are several reasons you may want to adopt your stepchild, besides the symbolic meaning of being recognized as a family in the eyes of the law. This may be the step that makes your family feel more emotionally secure. It may be especially meaningful to adopt a stepchild when the other parent has been mostly absent or an inconsistent figure in the child’s life. You may want to have a say in decisions about the child’s upbringing, like educational, medical, and religious decisions. It also eliminates the worry of who would get custody of the child should the child’s birth parent pass away. You may deny the birth parent visitation with the child if their rights are severed and you adopt the child.

What Is Required For a Stepchild Adoption?

Typically, the adoption process requires a certification process, a placement study, and an accounting review. When the prospective adoptive parent is the child’s stepparent, these requirements are bypassed. If the child’s other parent is still living, their parental rights will need to be terminated. The stepparent must have also been married to the child’s parent (who must consent to the adoption) for at least one year, and have lived with the child for at least 6 months. The adoptive stepparent must be at least 18 years old, and must be at least 10 years older than the stepchild. The child must give their consent to the adoption if they are 12 or older. A stepparent who wishes to adopt their stepchild can begin the adoption process after these requirements have been met.

What Are The Steps To Complete The Stepchild Adoption Process In Arizona?

  1. Draft a petition to adopt your stepchild and file it with the court. Adoption can be a complicated process, especially if the other parent is still living, so you may want to hire an attorney to take care of this for you. This petition will include basic information like your name, address, and marital information, as well as a description of your relationship with the child. You may use an alias for your stepchild to protect their privacy. You will also need to provide all interested parties with a notice of hearing. Make sure that you file the petition in the correct jurisdiction- usually where the child resides. The child’s parent will also need to fill out a Consent to Adoption.
  2. If applicable, obtain a termination of parental rights from the child’s other parent. The other parent may agree to a parental termination. Otherwise, you can petition the court to terminate the other parent’s right. You should also use this step if you cannot locate the other parent. This step can be fairly simple if the other parent consents, but can be quite difficult and expensive if the parent doesn’t want to terminate their rights.
  3. A state official will visit your home. They will generally check that there is no criminal activity or abuse in the home.
  4. Adoption hearing. Unless the judge has ordered otherwise, the child must be present at this hearing. Children 12 years and older are considered by the court to be competent to consent to their own adoption.
  5. Final orders are issued. If your petition is denied, you may begin the appeals process. If it was granted, you now have the same legal rights and obligations to the child as their birth parent.

When Will The Court Grant Termination Of Parental Rights?

Obtaining a termination of the other parent’s parental rights is a necessary step of the adoption process if that parent is still alive. This can be even more difficult if that parent has custody of the child. However, there are some factors that make the court more likely to sever a parent’s rights against their wishes. If the parent has been shown to be abusive, this will increase the likelihood that the court will sever parental rights. This is especially true if the parent is incarcerated for the abuse. If the birth parent has abandoned the child, including financial abandonment, the court is also more likely to sever parental rights. Mental illness, drug abuse, and certain convictions are all cause for the court to terminate parental rights. Prior parental terminations can be used as proof that the parent is unfit in future termination proceedings.

Termination of parental rights won’t necessarily be a battle. The parent may consent to the termination and sign a document relinquishing their legal rights and obligations to their child. This document will generally need to be notarized, as it irrevocably severs the parent’s legal relationship with the child. Parental rights can be terminated whether the other parent has a new partner who wants to adopt the child.

Our Phoenix Family Lawyers Can Assist With Adopting a Stepchild

Attorney representation isn’t required in family law matters, but isn’t constitutionally provided to you as in criminal proceedings. If you want representation while adopting your stepchild, you will need to hire an attorney of your own choosing. Your attorney will make sure the process is completed as efficiently as possible, without delays caused by an inaccurate petition for adoption. For quality family law representation with pricing that works with your budget, call Phoenix Divorce Attorneys today to schedule your free consultation. Plus, our dedicated staff and family attorneys offer flexible payment plans and office hours to ease the strain of the family law process. To get started, call (480) 263-1699 or use our online form to schedule your free consultation

 

My AZ Lawyers
Office: (480) 833-8000

Phoenix Family Law Office
668 N. 44th St., Ste 320
Phoenix, AZ 85008

Scottsdale Family Law Office
7135 E. Camelback Rd, Ste 230
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Avondale Family Law Office
12725 W. Indian School Rd, Ste E-101
Avondale, AZ 85392

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1731 W. Baseline Rd., Ste 100
Mesa, AZ 85202

Glendale Family Law Office
20325 N. 51st Ave., Ste 134
Glendale, AZ 85308

Phoenix Family Law Matters & Best Interests Of The Child Featured Image

Phoenix Family Law Matters & Best Interests Of The Child

Our AZ Family Attorneys Explain The Importance Of Determining The Best Interests Of The Child For Custody Matters

If you are an Arizona parent with upcoming parenting time, legal decision making, and child support issues, you have probably heard of the term “ the best interests of the child.” The court, in all family law matters that involve a child, will make decisions that are in the best interests of the child. But what exactly does that mean?

Family Law Attorneys Explain The Factors That Make Up The Child’s Best Interests In Phoenix

The Factors That Make Up the Child’s Best Interests

The factors the judge will look at when deciding what is in the child’s best interests are actually laid out by Arizona Revised Statutes Section 25-403. They include:

  • The past, present, and potential future relationship of the child with each parent.
  • The physical and mental health of both parents and the child: If one parent is struggling with alcohol dependency, it is likely in the best interests of the child to be placed with the other parent. It doesn’t just have to be about avoiding a negative. If a child has a medical condition and one parent has a medical background, time with that parent will probably be in the child’s best interest.
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school and community: Maybe one parent has to take a new job in a different school district. It may be better for that parent to visit the child on weekends so the child doesn’t have to switch schools, make new friends, etc…
  • The child’s wishes, if they are old enough: This age is typically around 12, but depends on personal factors.
  • If either parent will interfere with the parenting time of the other parent: The court prefers to place children with parents who don’t interfere with custody orders or disparage the other parent to the child. This factor isn’t considered in circumstances of domestic violence and abuse.
  • Whether either parent abused family law procedures: If a judge finds that one parent has been purposely delaying matters to harass the other parent and rack up legal costs, the judge will consider that when deciding what is in the best interest of the child. One parent will also be viewed disfavorably if they used fraud or duress while negotiating any of the custody and visitation agreements.

The child’s relationship with each parent’s new partner, other children, etc.: The child may be particularly close with one of their stepsiblings, or their relationship may be more volatile.

Whether each parent has otherwise followed the law: If one parent hasn’t followed past custody orders, has been convicted of abuse or falsely reporting abuse, or violated any applicable laws in some other way, placing the child with that parent may not be in the child’s best interest.

Custody issues won’t be resolved based on one of these issues alone (except for domestic violence or abuse). The judge may also order one or both parents to take parental education programs.

Knowing The Best Interest Factors

Knowing the factors that contribute to the best interests of the child in custody matters gives you a road map of how to properly navigate custody issues. Many parents make the mistake of discussing asset division arguments and marital transgressions of the other parent to their child.

Arizona Family law judges know this causes stress and guilt for the child. Because other people’s relationships are considered when analyzing the child’s best interests, this is a reminder that you should only date people who are a good example for your child and get along with them well. The factors may also encourage you to avoid moving and be more civil with the child’s other parent.

The Next Step After Learning Child’s Best Interest

The next step after learning what factors contribute to your child’s best interests is proving that time with you serves those interests. Resolving all of the issues in your divorce through mediation- a quicker and less painful process than a divorce trial for you and your children- is one way to do that. If you and the child’s other parent are unable to resolve the issues through mediation, they will be resolved at trial. You will need to present evidence and defend your position on any questions of your parenting ability. Once parenting time and legal decision making orders have been made, they are difficult and expensive to modify. That is why you need to get it done right the first time.

Contact Experienced Family Law Attorneys In Phoenix

The best way to ensure that is to have a skilled and knowledgeable family law attorney on your side. Our Phoenix Family Law Firm offers free consultations so you can see what we can do for you, risk-free. Call My Arizona Lawyers to schedule your free consultation today. The consultation is 100% confidential. Our Phoenix Family Lawyers look forward to assisting you.

 

My AZ Lawyers
Office: (480) 833-8000

Phoenix Family Law Office
668 N. 44th St., Ste 320
Phoenix, AZ 85008

Scottsdale Family Law Office
7135 E. Camelback Rd, Ste 230
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Avondale Family Law Office
12725 W. Indian School Rd, Ste E-101
Avondale, AZ 85392

Mesa Family Law Office
1731 W. Baseline Rd., Ste 100
Mesa, AZ 85202

Glendale Family Law Office
20325 N. 51st Ave., Ste 134
Glendale, AZ 85308