How to Adopt Your Stepchild in Ohio: 3 Things You Must Know

Ohio adoptions can be full of long processes and requirements, yet when adopting your stepchild, the process is not always that extensive. Many stepparents fall in love with their stepchildren and wish to adopt them as their own. So how do you adopt your stepchild in Ohio?

To adopt a stepchild in Ohio, the stepparent wishing to adopt must obtain stepchild adoption court forms, often available at the local courthouse, or may be purchased online from a court form service. If the biological parent is contest the adoption, then hiring a lawyer is strongly encouraged.

adopting a stepchild in Ohio

Stepparents may wish to adopt their stepchildren for a variety of reasons.

Establishing a legal parent-child relationship and acquiring all the privileges and obligations that go along with it is one big reason.

This may entail the authority to decide on the child’s welfare, education, and medical treatment as well as the obligation to maintain the child financially.

Adopting a stepchild can also give both the child and the stepparent emotional and psychological advantages, such as a feeling of stability and belonging within the family.

Additionally, it can make family dynamics stronger and make it simpler to make legal judgments in the case that the biological parent is not present or unable to do so.

How to Adopt Your Stepchild in Ohio

To adopt your stepchild in Ohio you can either hire a lawyer, visit your local courthouse and ask if they provide stepchild adoption court form packets, or purchase court forms through a service that specializes in stepchild adoption court forms.

Hire an Adoption Lawyer

Adopting a stepchild is a legal procedure that can be carried out in Ohio without the need for legal counsel. However, it is crucial to take legal counsel into account when adopting a stepchild because the procedure can be complicated and it may be useful to have an expert by your side to aid you.

A lawyer can represent you in court, help you complete the necessary papers, and advise you on the legal requirements for adoption.

They can also assist in making sure the adoption procedure is carried out properly and that all required legal actions are made to safeguard your parental rights.

An attorney can also help with any potential legal problems that can come up throughout the adoption process, like disagreements with the biological parent or any other legal difficulties.

Additionally, they might be able to provide advice on how to handle any legal concerns that might come up after the adoption is done.

While hiring a lawyer for a stepchild adoption in Ohio is not required, it is advisable to think about doing so because they can guide you through the difficult process, protect your rights, and help with any potential legal issues that might come up both during and after the adoption process.

Visit here for a board-certified adoption lawyer in Ohio.

Visit Your Local Courthouse

Stepparents in Ohio may be able to receive court form packages from their local courthouse if they seek to adopt their stepchild. It is advised that the stepparent contact their local courthouse to find out if these packets are available and if there are any other requirements or informational needs before starting the adoption procedure.

The stepparent can get the paperwork and instructions they need to finish the adoption procedure by getting one of these court form packets from the courtroom.

It may also include instructions on how to file the forms with the court and what paperwork must be included.

Remember that even if the court may have supplied the documents and directions, it is still advised to get legal counsel.

Making sure you fill out the documents correctly is important, but you should also make sure you are aware of the legal ramifications of adoption and any other potential legal concerns that might come up.

Find a local Ohio courthouse near you.

Purchase Stepchild Adoption Court Forms Through a Service

In Ohio, a stepparent who wants to adopt a stepchild can get the necessary paperwork through a service. These services may offer the essential forms and instructions for concluding the adoption procedure.

You can typically find these types of services by conducting an online search for “stepparent adoption forms.”

It’s vital to keep in mind that these businesses only offer court documents and not legal guidance, thus it is advised to see a lawyer for legal counsel before moving on with the adoption procedure.

It’s also important to confirm that the forms you receive from these businesses satisfy the specifications of the Ohio court you need them for, as some forms might not be recognized by all courts.

Legal counsel can help ensure that the forms are filled out correctly and that any legal difficulties that may arise during the process are addressed appropriately.

Additionally, these forms might not be customized for your particular case.

Visit here for more information on the requirements to adopt in Ohio.

Adoption Process

The adoption procedure for stepparents adopting their stepchild in Ohio entails a number of procedures, including the filing of a petition for adoption, a home study, and background check, getting the biological parent’s approval, terminating the biological parent’s rights, and finalizing the adoption.

Filing of the Petition for Adoption

The initial stage in the adoption process for stepparents adopting their stepchild in Ohio is submitting a petition for adoption. The petition, a legal document that must be submitted to the court, contains details on the biological parent, the stepparent, and the stepchild.

It must also give a justification for the adoption, such as the child’s best interests.
The county where the stepparent or the child resides is where the petition must be submitted.

The stepparent must sign it, and it must contain the following details:

  • The full names and dates of birth of the biological parent, the stepparent, and the stepchild.
  • The place of residence and mailing address of the biological parent, the stepparent, and the stepchild.
  • The day and location of the biological parent’s and stepparent’s wedding.
  • details regarding the stepparent’s or biological parent’s past unions or divorces.
  • A justification for why the adoption is in the child’s best interests.
  • A declaration of the stepparent’s readiness to adopt the child and take on parent obligations.

It’s crucial that the data in the petition be correct and comprehensive.

You can get assistance from an expert attorney with the legal terminology and with making sure that all relevant information is included.

After reviewing the petition, the court can require more details or clarification. The court will schedule a hearing to evaluate the petition after determining if it is accurate and comprehensive.

The judge will hear the testimony from all parties involved at the hearing before deciding whether or not to approve the adoption.

Home Study and Background Check

When a stepparent files an adoption petition in Ohio, the court will mandate that the stepparent undergo a home study and background investigation. These assessments are designed to make sure the stepparent is qualified to adopt the child and offer a secure and stable home.

A home study evaluates the living situation and the parent-fitness of the stepparent.

The home study will be carried out by a social worker or other trained professional and will usually involve an interview with the stepparent, a visit to the home, and interviews with other family members and anyone else residing there.

A review of the stepparent’s financial and personal information will also be part of the home study.

The social worker will submit a report to the court with recommendations on whether the stepparent would make a good adoptive parent.

A background investigation looks into the stepparent’s past, both personally and criminally.

To make sure that the stepparent has no history of violence or other issues that would make them ineligible to adopt the child, the background check will also involve a review of the stepparent’s criminal records, child abuse and neglect records, and any other pertinent data.

It’s crucial to remember that the court requires a background check and home study, and if these requirements are not met, the court may decide not to approve the adoption.

When deciding whether to allow or deny the adoption, the court takes into account the findings of the home study and background investigation.

Consent of the Biological Parent

The biological parent’s approval is a big step in Ohio’s stepparent adoption procedure. The adoption cannot take place without the biological parent’s approval. The biological parent of the child will typically be the stepparent’s spouse, but if the stepparent is in a relationship with them, it may also be the other parent.

It is required to offer consent in writing and to sign it in front of a notary public.

The permission must say that the biological parent voluntarily and voluntarily relinquishes custody of the child and approves the stepparent’s adoption.

The biological parent must be informed of the adoption proceedings, and they have the right to challenge the adoption if they object to it.

The next step in the adoption procedure is for the court to terminate the biological parent’s parental rights if they are unable or unwilling to do so.

The biological parent may occasionally be unable to give consent due to mental disability, being imprisoned, being abroad, or for other reasons.

In some circumstances, the court may approve the adoption without the biological parent’s permission.

Termination of the Biological Parent’s Rights

When the biological parent is unable or unwilling to give their agreement to the adoption, Ohio law requires that the rights of the biological parent be terminated. In order for the stepparent to adopt the child, the court must dissolve the child’s legal tie with the biological parent.

In Ohio, if a parent has abandoned the child, if the parent is determined to be unfit or unable to care for the child, or if the parent has neglected to maintain contact with the child for an extended period of time, the court may terminate the parent’s rights.

A parent’s rights may also be terminated by the court if they haven’t paid child support or have been found guilty of a certain crime.

A petition to terminate the biological parent’s rights must be submitted to the court in the county where the child resides in order to start the process of doing so.

The biological parent has the right to object to the termination of their rights and must be informed of the proceedings.

The evidence given will be used to decide whether the parent’s rights should be terminated once the court has a hearing to evaluate the petition.

An order will be issued severing the parent’s legal relationship with the child if the court decides that the parent’s rights should be terminated.

It’s crucial to remember that terminating a biological parent’s parental rights is a serious and permanent affair.

The court will carefully analyze the arguments made and decide what is in the child’s best interests.

Finalization of the Adoption

The last stage in the Ohio stepparent adoption process is finalizing the adoption. In this stage, the court issues a final order of adoption, ending the child’s legal relationship with the biological parent and establishing the stepparent as the child’s legal parent.

The court will schedule a final hearing once the home study and background investigation have been completed, the biological parent’s agreement has been acquired, or their parental rights have been revoked.

The petition for adoption and any further pertinent documents, such as the home study and background check, will be examined by the court at the final hearing.

A final order of adoption will be issued by the court if it determines that it is in the child’s best interest.

The final order of adoption must be recorded in the county where the child resides because it is a legal document.

The child will have the same legal rights and obligations as any other adopted child after the formal adoption order has been recorded.

The child’s attendance in the final hearing may be required by the court in specific circumstances, although it is not usually required.

Based on the child’s best interests and the information given in the case, the court will ultimately decide.

Curious about how much it would cost to adopt your stepchild? We put together an article just for you.

Should I Adopt My Stepchild?

A part of life is that many parents find themselves remarried with stepchildren. You may be asking yourself, should I adopt my stepchild?

You should adopt your stepchild if you are prepared for a lifelong commitment. Adoption is permanent, and you cannot change your mind should you and your spouse later decide to divorce. If you are prepared to love and honor your commitment to your adopted stepchild, you should adopt your stepchild.

If you are considering adopting your stepchild or stepchildren, there are some things you will want to think about before taking the plunge. It is safe to assume that you love your stepchild, so let’s go over some things to make sure you have covered all your bases.

It is important to remember that adopting your stepchild is a lifelong commitment. You may have a very good marriage now, but even good marriages can turn rocky.

At the beginning of a new marriage, you are in love and over the moon with happiness. Having romantic ideas of how the family dynamics will be is normal and sets a positive path forward.

Just know that you cannot simply change your mind about the adoption down the road if your marriage does not work out.

If you are unwilling to continue the parent/child relationship if your marriage goes south, then you should not adopt your stepchild.

Should the marriage end in divorce, you will still need to have cordial communications with the child’s other parent to co-parent your child.

Other things to consider would be if your marriage ended in divorce, you would be financially responsible for half of the expense of raising the child.

After a divorce, you would still be tied to your spouse for life, as you would both have a child together. Until the child turns 18 years of age, there will still be periods when the child resides with you.

No one wants to think about the possibility of divorce when things feel so right. Statistically, however, about half of all marriages end in divorce.

If you are not willing to make a lifelong commitment to a child, then you should not adopt the child.

Providing you do decide to proceed with the adoption of your stepchild, keep in mind that there are things you will want and need to do afterward to tie up any loose ends.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Adopt My Stepchild?

It’s a common question, do you need a lawyer to adopt your stepchild?

You do not need a lawyer to adopt your stepchild. Visit your local courthouse to acquire the required court forms and a list of requirements. Although you are not required to have an attorney to adopt your stepchild, hiring an attorney for any life-changing event is highly recommended.

You most certainly do not need an attorney to adopt your stepchild, as the process is a bit less complicated than other types of adoption.

Do-It-Yourself Stepparent Adoption in Ohio

Attorneys are nice to have and can do the leg work for you, but you most certainly do not need an attorney to adopt your stepchild.

If you are feeling a bit lost and want more information on starting your adoption journey, you may want to visit Ohio Adoption Requirements: Complete Guide.

Just keep in mind that many of the requirements will not apply to you if you are already residing with your stepchild.

Providing there is no anticipated legal battle from one of the biological parents, then one would be encouraged to obtain the court forms from your local courthouse, usually available to download online.

You may also wish to contact your local Department of Human Resources to speak to someone about how to process your adoption petition or reach out to your local courthouse.

Most courthouses have what is called a facilitator who helps guide you in the steps you need to take to complete legal processes without a lawyer.

Stepparent Adoption Contested by Biological Parent

Adopting a stepchild involves obtaining the permission of both biological parents. You will need the blessing of your spouse as well as the other parent.

How will the biological parent feel about the idea of a stepparent wanting to adopt their child? This depends on the relationship between the biological parent and the child.

There are times when the other parent will voluntarily terminate their rights to their child. Perhaps there is very little relationship between the parent and child.

If the stepparent has taken on the active parenting role, and if the biological parent recognizes their lack of involvement, they may agree to know the adoption decision is in the best interest of their child.

When the biological parent’s rights are terminated, it also frees them from court-ordered financial obligations.

Sadly, this can be a huge motivating factor for some biological parents to voluntarily terminate their rights to their children.

What do you do, though, if the biological parent refuses to give permission and contests the adoption? States will almost always only allow two parents to have parental rights to a child.

However, there have been a few cases where the courts have allowed three parents.

States are required to take the parental rights of the biological parent very seriously and will only terminate their parental rights if the parent is proven to be unfit, is not the true biological parent, or has in essence abandoned the child.

A parent can be found to be unfit for several reasons. Examples of an unfit parent can be things like being abusive or neglectful. Are they incarcerated or have they been incarcerated?

Is the biological parent’s home environment safe for this child? What type of people do they hang out with and have visited their home? Many things can deem a parent unfit.

For a parent to be accused of parental abandonment, the parent must not have spent any time with the child or paid child support in a very long time, usually a year.

If there is a question of paternity and it can be proven through the court system that the “biological” parent is not the parent, after all, that opens the door for adoption possibilities.

However, the rights tend to be placed with the biological parent, so that can be a tricky scenario.

Telling a Child Their Stepparent is Adopting Them

Depending on the age of this child being adopted, you will most certainly be excited to tell them the good news! In some states, a child over a certain age will need to permit to be adopted.

Not telling the child they are being adopted by the stepparent can create mistrust and hurt down the road, so think twice if you were planning on not telling them until later.

I strongly encourage you to not keep the adoption hidden from the child or children. Allow them the opportunity to be excited about being adopted! Involve them in the process and celebrate!

And hats off to you if you are a stepparent considering adopting your stepchild. It takes a huge heart and unconditional love to adopt a child that is not biologically yours.

And when you are helping raise a child, you are already a huge part of their life whether you make it official or not.

What are the Home Study Requirements for Stepparent Adoptions in Ohio?

Prior to permitting an adoption to take place, a home study or home study is a screening of the home and lives of potential adoptive parents.

A home study is needed by legislation in some countries, as well as in all international adoptions. Even though it isn’t legally needed, an adoption agency may insist on it.

Ohio is one of the few states that requires a home study in a step-parent adoption.

Does the Stepchild Have to Consent to an Adoption in Ohio?

A child who is thirteen (13) years and older must provide signed consent to their own adoption in Ohio. Younger children are not required to give their consent.

You are encouraged to proceed with a stepparent adoption during a time when your stepchild will react favorably to knowing you are adopting them.

Important to remember when planning to adopt your stepchild is that it is likely your stepchild has been through quite a lot.

Absent biological parents not voluntarily involved in their child’s life can be a painful emotion to live with for your stepchild.

Another thing to consider is the timing of the stepparent adoption. Was there a divorce previous to your marriage with your stepchild’s parent that your stepchild is still reeling from?

Children often suffer emotionally from the loss of a biological parent. Even a marriage viewed as a positive step forward takes time for a child to adjust to.

Consider letting the dust settle between major life events.

Can a Child Be Adopted Without the Father’s Consent in Ohio?

Under citation Rev. Code § 3107.06, a father’s consent to an adoption in the state of Ohio involves the following.

For a child born after 1-1-1997, an adoption petition may be granted only when written consent has been executed by:

  • The father if:
    • The minor was conceived or born while the father was married to the mother.
    • The minor is his child by adoption.
    • Prior to the date the petition was filed, a court determined that he has a parent-child relationship with the minor.
    • He acknowledged the paternity of the child, and the acknowledgment of paternity has become final.
  • The putative father

Trina Greenfield, Author
SmackDown Media LLC

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina is a seasoned writer, content creator, and website owner with a passion for unbiased research, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.