Stepparent Adoption

 

Blended families are increasingly common today as parents marry and remarry.  Children are often raised by one biological parent and one stepparent.  When the family wishes to legally blend that family and remove the "stepparent" label, stepparent or second parent adoption is an attractive option to legally bring the family together.  Ohio law requires that a person seeking to adopt be represented by an attorney or adoption agency.

A stepparent adoption, like any other adoption, will result in the same legal rights and obligations as if the child were the natural and biological child of the stepparent.  A new birth certificate will be issued for the child listing former stepparent and his or her spouse as the child's parents, and the parental rights of the other biological parent will be legally terminated.  These adoptions may proceed uncontested with the consent of both biological parents or with proper notice to the other biological parent if that parent has failed to communicate or financially support the child for at least one year prior to the filing.  Jonhenry Law will guide you through the process to help you build the loving family you desire.

Same Sex Marriage, Parentage, & Adoption

 

All fifty states, including Ohio, now allow same sex marriages and recognize same sex marriages legally performed in other states.  So what does this mean for their children?  All married same sex couples are permitted to list both parents on their children's birth certificates when they are born.  Similarly, a married same sex couple may now adopt together in the same manner as a married opposite sex couple.  The legal presumptions of parentage apply to the non-biological parent of children born to one parent during the marriage (when born after the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges on June 26, 2015).  That being said, a presumption of parentage is not the same thing as a legal finding of parentage, so it is still important to discuss your legal rights with counsel to ensure both parents are afforded the same legal rights as desired.  A court order provides a formal determination of parentage, whereas a birth certificate designation only acts as an administrative record of presumptive parentage.  Jonhenry Law will help you to establish these rights as soon as possible to avoid further complications in the event of divorce or death of a parent.

What about children born to or adopted by both parents in a state which allowed married same sex couples to adopt prior to  June 26, 2015?  Ohio law recognizes adoption decrees legally executed in another state as though the decree were issued by a court of this state.  For children born to a married same sex couple in another state prior to June 26, 2015, seeking a court order to establish parentage is recommended as that marriage would not have been legally recognized by Ohio at the time of birth.

What about children born to an unmarried parent or adopted by only one parent (either when unmarried or when legally married in another state prior to June 26, 2015)?  When a married couple is raising children together but the children are legally the children of one spouse only, the other spouse may petition for a stepparent adoption.  Without a formal legal adoption, only the legal parent has legal rights regarding the children during the marriage and in the event of divorce or death.  Ohio law does not permit adoption by two unmarried persons.  Jonhenry Law can assist you with the process to legally bring your family together.

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