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Utah Family Law Attorney Stephen Howard

Family Law Solutions Start HereSM
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Davis County Step-Parent Adoptions

The process of adopting a step-child is often a matter of securing formal legal recognition of the parent-child relationship that has developed over time. A biological parent may be deceased or may have drifted out of the child's life for a variety of reasons. Different circumstances may require different processes to finalize a step-parent adoption. But obtaining the legal protections provided through the formal adoption process can provide important rights, security, and reassurance both to parents and children. If you have questions about the adoption process in Davis County, contact us to see what we can do to help make the adoption process easier for you and your family.

Parental Rights Issues in Step-Parent Adoptions

Davis County Step-Parent Adoption LawyerThe step-parent adoption process is often simpler than other kinds of adoptions in Utah. But if the non-adopting, non-custodial parent is still alive and still has parental rights, you may have to go through a formal process of terminating parental rights before the step-parent adoption can be completed. The potential problems that can arise are enough to give good reason to have the assistance of a good adoption attorney.

In adoptions by a step-parent where one biological parent is deceased, only the consent from the remaining parent (sometimes referred to as the "custodial parent" and normally the spouse of the step-parent) is needed. Where the other biological parent is still alive and still has parental rights intact, that parent must either consent to the adoption or the court must terminate that parent's parental rights. If that parent contests the adoption, grounds for termination of parental rights can include:

  • abandonment of the child;
  • neglect or abuse of the child;
  • the parent is unfit or incompetent
  • failure of parental adjustment
  • only token efforts have been made by the parent to support or communicate with the child, to prevent neglect, or to eliminate the risk of serious harm to the child.

If consent has been obtained or if the parental rights of the non-adopting parent have been terminated, the adopting parent must still meet certain requirements in order to obtain approval from the court to finalize the adoption. Before a court will let a step-parent adopt, the court must be provided with an official criminal history report obtained from the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) through the Department of Public Safety. The court must be provided with clearance from the Utah Child Abuse Registry maintained by the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS).

There are a number of other legal requirements that must be met for a step-parent to adopt in Utah. But the final decision by the court in approving an adoption must be based on what is in the "best interest" of the child being adopted.

Finding an Adoption Attorney for Davis County

Many people considering adopting a step-child are afraid that the process will be long, time-consuming, and expensive. But many are surprised to find out just how easy and affordable a step-parent adoption can be. If you are considering adopting a step-child, you should consult with an adoption attorney before beginning the process. In Davis County, we serve clients in Farmington, Layton, Bountiful, Clearfield, Syracuse, and more. We also offer adoption-related legal services to clients involved in agency adoptions, private adoptions, foster child adoptions, international adoptions, and more. Contact us now to see how we can help make the legal processes of adoption easier for you.


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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, Morgan, and Wasatch Counties - and all of Utah.


Stephen W. Howard is Utah attorney, practicing as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC.
With offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties, we are pleased to provide legal services to clients throughout Utah.
Call 801-449-1409 to arrange for a confidential initial consultation.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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