Utah Adoption Lawyers
Adoptions can be a difficult and lengthy legal process, be it a traditional adoption or a step-parent adoption. No matter what stage you are at in a Utah adoption, at Howard, Lewis & Petersen, P.C., we can guide you through that process.
Likewise, if you are a biological parent needing representation in a contested adoption or other related matters, we can work to protect your rights.
Utah Step Parent Adoption
In Utah, step parent adoptions are relatively easy so long as the biological father has consented to the adoption. Here are the basic steps for a Utah step parent adoption.
(1). Biological Father’s Consent. First and foremost, you must obtain the consent of the biological father of the child who is going to be adopted. Without the consent of the biological father, you will enter into a contested adoption where you will have to involuntarily terminate the legal father’s rights. This is a long, drawn-out and emotional process that is not taken lightly by the courts. The grounds for termination of parental rights in Utah can be found at the Utah Adoption Act, 78B-6-1 and the Utah Juvenile Court Act.
The legal grounds for involuntarily terminating a person’s parental rights are the following:
(a) that the parent has abandoned the child;
(b) that the parent has neglected or abused the child;
(c) that the parent is unfit or incompetent;
(i) that the child is being cared for in an out-of-home placement under the supervision of the court or the division;
(ii) that the parent has substantially neglected, wilfully refused, or has been unable or unwilling to remedy the circumstances that cause the child to be in an out-of-home placement; and
(iii) that there is a substantial likelihood that the parent will not be capable of exercising proper and effective parental care in the near future;
(e) failure of parental adjustment, as defined in this chapter;
(f) that only token efforts have been made by the parent:
(i) to support or communicate with the child;
(ii) to prevent neglect of the child;
(iii) to eliminate the risk of serious harm to the child; or
(iv) to avoid being an unfit parent;
(i) that the parent has voluntarily relinquished the parent’s parental rights to the child; and
(ii) that termination is in the child’s best interest;
(h) that, after a period of trial during which the child was returned to live in the child’s own home, the parent substantially and continuously or repeatedly refused or failed to give the child proper parental care and protection; or
(i) the terms and conditions of safe relinquishment of a newborn child have been complied with, pursuant to Title 62A, Chapter 4a, Part 8, Safe Relinquishment of a Newborn Child.
(2). Background Checks. Every adult living in the home must have FBI and State criminal background checks. These forms can be found at www.utcourts.gov.
(3). Child Abuse Background Checks. Every adult living in the home must have a child abuse registery background check to screen for prior child abuse allegations. This form can be found at https://dcfs.utah.gov/pdf/forms/InformedConsent.pdf.
(4). Petition and Order of Adoption. Once you clear all the adults in the home with the background checks, you file a petition asking the court for permission to adopt the child. After the judge reviews the petition and background checks, the court will issue an order and decree of adoption making the entire process official and complete. You then obtain a certified copy of the adoption decree and then change the child’s last name as the parties see fit.