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

Utah 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 Utah?

To adopt a stepchild in Utah, 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 Utah

There are many reasons why a stepparent might wish to adopt their stepchild in Utah.

  • In order to grant the stepparent legal rights and obligations for the child, such as making decisions regarding their education and healthcare, it is necessary to first create a legal parent-child connection.
  • Adoption can also have a positive emotional impact on the child and the stepparent by giving the family a sense of permanence and security.
  • Another factor could be that the child’s sole remaining parent is the stepparent because the child’s biological parent has passed away.
  • Additionally, inheritance from the child and from the stepparent may be permitted by adoption.

How to Adopt Your Stepchild in Utah

To adopt your stepchild in Utah 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

It is not necessary for a stepparent in Utah to retain legal counsel in order to adopt their stepchild. However, it is important to consider working with a lawyer to facilitate the adoption procedure.

Let’s take a look at some benefits of hiring an adoption lawyer:

  • An adoption lawyer can ensure that all legal criteria are met and that the adoption is finished on schedule.
  • Legal counsel can aid the stepparent in navigating the sometimes complex legal system.
  • Assisting with understanding their obligations and rights under the law as an adoptive parent, as well as representing the stepparent in court if there is a dispute with the other biological parent.
  • Can provide the stepparent peace of mind because they will be able to answer any questions they may have regarding the adoption procedure and guide them through any difficulties that may come up.
  • Assist in ensuring that the child’s best interests are safeguarded if any problems come up during the adoption process.

Overall, even though it is not legally necessary to hire a lawyer to adopt a stepchild in Utah, doing so is nevertheless advised in order to navigate the legal system and make sure the adoption is successful and in the child’s best interests.

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

Visit Your Local Courthouse

For tools and information on the adoption procedure, stepparents in Utah who seek to adopt their stepchildren should contact their local courthouse. Stepparent adoption-specific court form packets may be available for stepparents.

These packets normally contain all the paperwork required to finish the adoption procedure, along with guidelines on how to complete the papers accurately.

These packets can be a useful tool for stepparents as they work through the adoption process since they offer a structured manner to collect and submit the required data.

Stepparents might also inquire about any local adoption rules or procedures that might be particular to their region with their local courthouse.

They can also ask about the requirements for attending adoption proceedings as well as the hearing schedule.

It’s important to note that some courthouses might have stepparent adoption paperwork and information available online, so it’s advised to examine internet resources as well.

Find a local Utah courthouse near you.

Purchase Stepchild Adoption Court Forms Through a Service

If you search online for “stepparent adoption forms,” you can find a service that sells stepchild adoption court forms for stepparents To assist stepparents in the adoption process, these services offer court forms that are particular to the state of Utah.

These services often provide a range of forms, such as those required to start the adoption procedure, end the rights of the original parents, and complete the adoption.

A checklist of the documents required to finish the process may also be provided, and they frequently include advice on how to complete the forms appropriately.

It is significant to remember that, despite the fact that these services offer court forms, they cannot and will not offer legal advice.

They shouldn’t be used in place of legal counsel if you have any legal concerns or questions as the adoption process progresses.

You’ll want to check out their pricing before acquiring the forms because this service isn’t usually cheap.

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

Adoption Process

Stepparents who wish to adopt their stepchildren in Utah must go through a number of stages before the adoption may be legally finalized.

A petition for adoption must be filed, a home study must be finished, a background check must be finished, the biological parent must give their consent, their parental rights must be terminated, and the adoption must then be legally finalized.

Filing of the Petition for Adoption

The initial stage in the adoption process for stepparents in Utah is the filing of the Petition for Adoption. The court in the county where the child is currently residing must receive the petition. Information regarding the stepparent, the child, and the biological parent should all be included in the petition.

The petition should contain the following details, among other things:

  • The petition must include the full names, addresses, and dates of birth of the biological parent, the stepparent, and the child.
  • The petition should detail the stepparent’s and the child’s relationship, including how long they have been cohabitating and how long they have been wed.
  • The child’s legal guardian, who is in charge of making decisions on the child’s behalf, should be identified in the petition.
  • The petition should detail the adoption’s justifications, including how the child will benefit from it and why the stepparent is the ideal candidate to be the child’s adoptive parent.
  • The biological parent’s agreement to the adoption should be stated in the petition. The court may revoke a biological parent’s parental rights if they are unable or unwilling to do so.
  • Both the legal guardian of the child and the stepparent must sign the petition.

The petition must be exact and comprehensive; if any material is omitted, the court may reject it.

Home Study and Background Check

In Utah, a home study and background check are big components of the adoption process. After the petition for adoption has been submitted to the court, these examinations are carried out.

The goal of the home study and background check is to make sure that the stepparent can give the child a secure and loving environment and that they don’t have any criminal records that would exclude them from adopting the child.

Home study

A home study is a review of the stepparent’s living situation, parenting abilities, and capacity to give the child a secure and caring environment.

A social worker usually conducts the home study, visits the stepparent’s home, interviews the stepparent, and watches the stepparent interact with the child.

The stepparent’s employment, medical, and financial records will also be examined by the social worker.

The social worker will write a report for the court when the home study is finished that includes suggestions for the adoption.

Background Check

The stepparent’s criminal past is examined during a background check. The local police agency normally conducts the background investigation, looking into the stepparent’s criminal history and any other records that would suggest the stepparent is unsuitable to adopt the child.

It’s crucial to remember that the home study and background check are performed to ensure the child’s best interests and that the stepparent is capable of giving the child a secure and caring environment.

During these examinations, it’s also crucial to be honest and upfront because any material that is withheld could generate questions.

The home study and background check are performed to make sure the stepparent has no criminal record that would preclude them from being a qualified adoptive parent.

During these assessments, it’s important to be open and honest because any criminal background could create questions.

Consent of the Biological Parent

In Utah, obtaining the biological parent’s consent is an essential stage in the adoption process. The consent of the biological parent must be granted voluntarily and in writing in order for the adoption to continue.

The biological parent forfeits their parental rights to the child when they agree to the adoption.

As a result, they will no longer be responsible for the child’s upbringing or financial support, and they will also lose all parental rights.

The biological parent could occasionally be unable or unwilling to consent to the adoption.

This may occur in a number of circumstances, including when the biological parent has passed away, is missing, cannot be found, is incapable of giving consent, or is reluctant to do so.

The court may revoke the biological parent’s parental rights if they are unable or unwilling to do so.

It is usually done in combination with the adoption case, but it is possible to accomplish this through a different legal procedure.

The court must be convinced that the biological parent’s agreement to the adoption was freely given and was not coerced and must be supplied voluntarily and in writing.

Biological parent consent is one of the most crucial elements the court will take into account when deciding whether to approve the adoption, and the court will be most concerned with what is in the child’s best interests.

Termination of the Biological Parent’s Rights

In Utah, a stepparent may occasionally need to go through a legal procedure known as termination of the biological parent’s rights in order to adopt their stepchild. Parental rights are “severed” or “terminated” through this procedure.

Parental rights can only be terminated under specific conditions and is a serious affair.

If a biological parent is considered unfit or incapable of raising the child, the court may terminate the parent’s rights.

This may occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • If the parent has a history of abuse, neglect, or abandonment
  • If the parent is unable to meet the child’s basic needs
  • If the parent has a history of drug use or criminal activity
  • If the parent cannot be found

The court must hold a hearing where the biological parent and the stepparent both have the chance to submit facts and give testimony before it can suspend a biological parent’s rights.

When deciding whether to terminate a biological parent’s rights, the court will take into account a number of criteria, including the child’s best interests, the biological parent’s capacity to provide for the child, and any other pertinent facts.

The termination of a biological parent’s rights is a serious matter and shouldn’t be viewed lightly.

The court must be convinced that terminating the rights of the biological parent is in the child’s best interest and that there is a good cause for doing so.

Finalization of the Adoption

The stepparent adoption procedure in Utah is completed by finalizing the adoption. The case will move on to the finalization hearing after the adoption petition has been submitted, the home study and background check have been finished, the biological parent’s consent has been acquired, and the biological parent’s rights have been terminated (if necessary).

The stepparent, the child, and any other pertinent parties will be present during the finalization hearing.

In order to determine whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child and that all legal requirements have been satisfied, the judge will review the adoption documents and interrogate the parties during the hearing.

The judge will approve the adoption after they are certain that it is in the child’s best interests and that all formalities have been followed.

The child will now be legally regarded as the stepparent’s child, and the stepparent will have all of the rights and obligations of a parent.

Once an adoption is approved, it cannot be reversed. As a result, the stepparent will be granted all parental rights and obligations, including the authority to make decisions on the welfare, education, and health of the child.

The adoption process may take several months to complete, so it’s important tobe patient.

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 Utah

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 Utah 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 Utah?

A home study is not necessary for a stepparent adoption unless the Court orders otherwise. 

A criminal background records check and a report comprising all information on reports and investigations of child abuse, neglect, and dependence must be collected and filed with the Court.

If one of these mandatory background checks returns a negative result, the stepparent adoption may still be finalized.

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

A child who is twelve (12) years and older must provide signed consent to their own adoption in Utah. 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 Utah?

Under citation Ann. Code §§ 78B-6-120; 78B-6-123, a father’s consent to an adoption in the state of Utah involves the following.

Consent to the adoption of a child, or relinquishment of a child for adoption, is required from:

  • A man who by operation of law under § 78B‑15‑607 is recognized as the father of the proposed adoptee or is the father of the adoptee by a previous legal adoption
  • Any biological parent who has executed and filed a voluntary declaration of paternity with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics within the Department of Health, prior to the mother’s execution of consent to adoption or her relinquishment of the child for adoption
  • An unmarried biological father of the child, only if he strictly complies with requirements to develop a substantial relationship with the child, openly acknowledge himself to be the father, initiates paternity proceedings, and agrees to support the child

The consent of an unmarried biological father is not required if:

  • The court determines that the unmarried biological father’s rights should be terminated based on the petition of any interested party.
  • A declaration of paternity declaring the unmarried biological father to be the father of the child is rescinded.
  • The unmarried biological father fails to comply with the requirements to initiate proceedings to establish the paternity of the child.

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.