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Stepparent Adoption

Trusted Stepparent Adoption Attorney in Columbus

Adopting a stepchild is one of the most fulfilling and important decisions one can make. Often, a stepparent plays a primary role in raising a child in place of one of the biological parents. Under certain circumstances, Ohio law provides for the stepparent to adopt the child. Attorney Dirken D. Winkler has over 16 years of experience representing stepparents seeking to adopt a child. Our team located in Columbus but serving the entire state of Ohio has the experience to understand how to navigate through the many legal challenges faced when adopting a stepchild. Providing a permanent and legal parent-child relationship is the primary goal of a stepparent adoption proceeding and it is our job to make it happen.

Ohio Stepparent Adoption Process

Adoption Petition

Stepparent adoption is initiated when the stepparent files a petition for adoption with the Probate Court where the child resides. The child’s biological parent (noncustodial parent) must be notified of the petition and must be provided an opportunity to object to the adoption. If the noncustodial biological parent fails to file timely objections with the Probate Court, then the biological parent’s consent will not be necessary.

Consent to Adoption

For the stepparent adoption to proceed, Ohio law requires that both biological parents consent to the adoption. However, there are exceptions. For instance, the consent of the noncustodial biological parent is not required when the stepparent (the party that has filed the petition) proves by “clear and convincing evidence” that the noncustodial biological parent has failed, without justification, to 1) communicate with the child, OR 2) financially support the child, during the twelve months immediately preceding the date the adoption petition was filed.

Should the noncustodial biological parent timely file objections to the petition, the Probate Court will then schedule a “Consent hearing” to determine whether the noncustodial biological parent’s consent is necessary. 

Best Interests Hearing

Should the noncustodial biological parent consent, or fails to object, the Court will then schedule a final “Best Interests hearing” to either approve or deny the petition. As with all matters dealing with legal custody of a child, the Court must find that the stepparent adoption is in the child’s best interest. 

Depending on the circumstances, a stepparent adoption may have up to two hearings. 

Once the Stepparent Adoption is Approved

When the Court approves a stepparent adoption, the adopting parent (the stepparent) then assumes all legal rights and responsibilities to support and care for the adopted child. Furthermore, the adopted child is vested with all rights as if he or she were the stepparent’s natural child, including rights to the stepparent’s estate and assets upon death, and, in cases of divorce, the adopting parent could be ordered to financially support the adopted child. 

Attorney Dirken D. Winkler represents both the adopting stepparent and the noncustodial biological parent (not in the same proceeding) and is very well versed in addressing the factual and legal issues in an Ohio stepparent adoption. If you are attempting to adopt a stepchild or have been served notice of a petition to adopt your child, contact Winkler Legal for a free initial telephone consultation to discuss your matter more fully. In most circumstances, Winkler Legal offers an affordable flat fee arrangement for Stepparent adoption representation. 

Unfortunately, the costs of a stepparent adoption are not tax-deductible. IRS Publication 968. 

When dealing with a stepparent adoption, it is important to understand and protect your rights. Winkler Legal serves stepparent adoption clients all over the state of Ohio including Central Ohio.   

Trusted Resources

With knowledge and foresight, we assist our clients in being involved and informed in their unique decision-making process. We offer a wealth of information including videos, detailed blog postings on hot topics, informational articles, and comprehensive seminars to educate our clients. If you have any questions, we offer free consultations to discuss your personal needs.