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Can Stepparents Adopt Their Stepchildren?

Can Stepparents Adopt Their Stepchildren

When divorces happen, new relationships may begin between stepparents and children. Often stepparents seek to make this relationship official by formally adopting their stepchildren.

Under Utah law, stepparents have the right to adopt their stepchildren, but only if the non-custodial parent either gives up his or her parental right, or a court orders the termination of this right. This can be a difficult process that requires legal fees and determination, but can be tremendously rewarding for the stepparents and children.

The first step any stepparent seeking adoption would take is to seek the consent of the non-custodial birth parent. When that parent consents to the adoption, he or she gives up all parental rights and responsibilities. Some parents who are not present in their children’s lives and do not wish to be saddled with support obligations welcome this opportunity. Others, however, do not wish to lose their parental rights to their children. In these situations, a stepparent would need to seek a court order terminating the parent’s rights.

To do this, a stepparent would need to prove that the non-custodial parent has either abandoned his or her children or is not fit to serve as a parent. For instance, if a stepparent can show that the birth parent has not provided support or made contact with the child, a court may deem that parent to have abandoned his or her children. Alternatively, if the non-custodial parent is abusive or otherwise unfit to parent, this might also be grounds to terminate his or her parental rights.

It Can Be Helpful to Get a Receipt When Returning a Former Partner’s Property

It’s somewhat common for separating or divorcing couples to leave behind some of their possessions in their former marital home where their former partner still lives. After all, married couples collect a lot of possessions over the years and it can be difficult to put together a full inventory and get everything out of the house immediately.

There are often arrangements in which a spouse who stays in the marital home agrees to store some of the other spouse’s personal property temporarily, under an agreement that that spouse picks it up at a later date. However, if the relationship after the divorce remains contentious, there’s always the chance that the spouse picking up the items could claim some of the items were missing, even if you gave back everything you had.

What’s the best way to proceed in this situation?

Always get a receipt for any returned items to avoid future problems

First, if you stored items for your former partner out of the good will of your heart for an extended time after your divorce, it is unlikely a court will be overly sympathetic to the former spouse if he or she believes a few items have gone missing in that time. However, as an additional means of protecting yourself, it can be a good idea to create a receipt with an itemized list of all the property that your former partner can then sign in recognition that the property was returned.

In a similar manner, you can have a friend or family member present when your former partner comes by to pick up items so that he or she can act as a witness that you gave over all the items on the list.

Finally, be sure to take photos or videos of the items you are handing over. This serves as documentation and a sort of receipt in its own right and will provide extra evidence in the event you have to return to court due to a dispute over the “missing” items.

Free Initial Consultation with an Adoption Lawyer

When you need to do a step-parent adoption of have any adoption questions, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506