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Utah Stepparent Adoption

Adopting a stepchild is the most common form of adoption in Utah.  A stepparent who adopts agrees to be fully responsible for his or her spouse’s child.  After the stepparent adoption occurs, the noncustodial parent (the parent not living with the child) no longer has any rights or responsibilities for the child, including child support.
Unlike other types of adoptions, a home study is not required (unless otherwise ordered by the Court), but a criminal history records check and a report containing all information regarding reports and investigations of child abuse, neglect, and dependency must be obtained and filed with the Court.  If there is a negative mark on either of these required background checks there still may be a chance to finalize the stepparent adoption.
TIME REQUIREMENT–  In Utah the stepparent and the minor child adoptee must live in the same home for at least one year (unless the court waives the time requirement).
CONSENT & NOTICEThe rules regarding consent and notice to the natural parent are the same as all other types of adoptions.  Additionally, if the adoptee child is at least 12 years of age then his/her consent most likely required.
JURISDICTION–  In order for a court to issue a Decree of Adoption, it must have both personal and subject matter jurisdiction.  Although adoptions are exempted from the Utah Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), other laws may affect a court’s ability to have jurisdiction over an adoption.  If there was ever a child custody or visitation determination made by a court in another state regarding the step child, then we strongly encourage you to schedule an appointment with us to review the facts and determine the best possible course of action.
LEGAL EFFECT OF A STEPPARENT ADOPTION As expected, a stepparent adoption creates a permanent and irrevocable relationship between the stepparent and the stepchild, and in law, the newly created relationship is no different than if the child were born to the adoptive parent.  As such, the noncustodial biological parent’s rights are permanetly and irrevocably terminated.  Moreover, the adoptive child may be able to inherit from the adoptive parent via intestate laws as a natural child could.  Finally, if the adoptive parent and the child’s natural parent were ever to become separated or divorced, then the adoptive parent will be responsible for support of the child, will be entitled parent-time rights, and may seek custody of the child.
Because stepparent adoptions in Utah can be very complicated, we strongly encourage those who are seeking to adopt their stepchild to consult with us.