Step-parent adoptions are the most common type of adoptions handled in this court. This is an adoption in which a biological parent and a step-parent petition the court to adopt a child. Once the petition is filed, an investigation is completed, known as a home study. There is a $250 fee, with a $50 increase per child, for the home study. When the home study is completed and approved, approximately three months after the filing of the petition, the parental rights of the non-custodial parent are terminated. This is typically done by a consent hearing in which the non-custodial parent consents to the adoption and the judge terminates his/her parental rights.
The rights may also be terminated if the non-custodial parent has not paid support and has not had parenting time with the child for two years immediately preceding the filing of the petition. If you are seeking termination of rights in this fashion, you will have to file a Supplemental Petition setting forth the facts to substantiate your assertion that there has been no parenting time or support paid for two years.
After the rights of the non-custodial parent are terminated, there is a waiting period of 21 days, during which the non-custodial parent has the right to appeal the termination decision. After the 21 days have elapsed, the adoption may be finalized.
At the finalization hearing the judge informs the step-parent of the legal consequences of the adoption, including that the step-parent will be financially and legally responsible for the child as if the child were a natural-born child, and the child will be an heir of the adopting parent. Family members are encouraged to attend the finalization hearing along with the petitioners and the child. Cameras are encouraged!
In a relative adoption, the biological parents consent to a relative adopting the child. The procedure for this type of adoption follows the same procedure as the step-parent adoption, the relative files a petition to adopt the child, a home study is completed, and both biological parents give their consent to the adoption and the adoption can be finalized 21 days thereafter.
Documents needed at time of filing adoption petition:
PETITION FOR ADOPTION
SUPPLEMENTAL PETITION AND AFFIDAVIT TO TERMINATE PARENTAL RIGHTS OF NONCUSTODIAL PARENT
- petition for adoption
- supplemental petition and affidavit to terminate parental rights of noncustodial parent (if applicable)
- $185 filing fee
- copy of birth certificate
- copy of marriage license
- copy of divorce decree or: Order of Filiation, Support and/or Custody Order
All of the above-named documents must be properly completed and payment of the fee is required when filing the Petition for Adoption.
Notes to remember:
- If a supplemental petition is filed, there is an additional $20 filing fee. Also, a printout from the Friend of the Court showing arrearages and payments must be filed with the petition.
- A home investigation must be done and approved by the judge. The investigation process is approximately 90 days from the Judge’s approval of the Petition for Adoption.
- A petitioner’s verified accounting is due 7 days before formal placement .(termination of noncustodial parents rights).
- Consent of non-custodial parent is done following the approval of the home investigation.