How to Adopt a Stepchild in Arizona

Adopt a stepchild.

How to Adopt a Stepchild in Arizona

In some blended families, a child may have little to no relationship with one of their biological parents, seeing their stepparent as their true parent, especially if that stepparent has been around for most of their life. Likewise, a stepparent may treat their stepchild as their true child in every way but the legal sense.

Stepparents are not afforded legal decision-making rights of their stepchildren regardless of how long they have been in the child’s life. This prevents them from having a legal say in most facets of the child’s life, such decisions regarding education, religion, and medical issues. Adopting a stepchild can bring that final sense of permanency within a blended family and allows the stepparent to demonstrate their additional level of commitment by awarding them all the legal rights that come with being a parent.

Adoption in Arizona comes with many steps and requirements, however adopting a stepchild is actually a bit simpler than the standard adoption.

Being an Eligible Stepparent

The requirements for a stepparent to adopt are the same as any other adoption in the state. The adopting parent must be an adult over 18 years old who is a United States or has a legal permanent residency status.

In order to be considered an eligible stepparent, the child must have lived with the stepparent and the child’s biological or legal parent for at least six months.

Social Study Requirements

Pursuant to A.R.S. 8-112(D), stepparents are only required to undergo the state and federal criminal records check portion of the social study that is required in many other adoptions if the following are true:

  • The stepparent has been married to the child’s biological or legal parent for at least one year.
  • The child has lived with the stepparent and the child’s biological or legal parent for at least six months.

Termination of Parental Rights

A child may not have more than two legal parents. In order for a stepparent to adopt their stepchild, the parental rights of the biological non-spousal parent will need to be terminated.

This can be done voluntarily if the biological parent consents to the termination of their parental rights. However, the court can also terminate parental rights in instances such as abandonment, chronic abuse, failed notice of paternity, sexual assault, and an inability to locate the parent.

If the parent in question is deceased, this step is not necessary.

Petitioning for Adoption

An eligible stepparent will need to file an adoption petition and request an adoption hearing in order to be able to legally adopt. Adoptions of any nature are extensive and complicated, and hiring an adoption attorney is often prudent to ensure things go smoothly.

If everything is to order at the adoption hearing, a judge will order the adoption of the stepchild, officially making their stepparent their legal parent, with the full rights that come with it.


Rideout Law Group handles cases throughout the entire state of Arizona, with offices located in Scottsdale and Lake Havasu City. Our attorneys are experienced in handling adoption cases. For a free consultation, call 480-584-3328.

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