Relative and Stepparent Adoption in Pima County
Relative and Stepparent Adoptions in Pima County, Arizona
(Non Indian Child)
Relative and stepparent adoptions, in which the adoptive parents do not need to be certified as acceptable to adopt by the court, are limited to a grandchild, great grandchild, niece, nephew, sibling or stepchild.
Before a grandparent, great grandparent, aunt, uncle, adult sibling or stepparent can adopt a minor relative or stepchild, that child must be “free for adoption.” That means the parent(s) of the child must either give written consent to the adoption or their parental rights to that child need to be terminated.
If the child was born in Arizona and the father has not established paternity, (i.e. he was not married to the mother at any time in the ten months immediately preceding the birth or the child is born within ten months after the marriage is terminated; he is not on the birth certificate; and no court order has ever been entered declaring him to be the father of the child), it may be possible to proceed with the adoption without the father’s consent or termination of his parental rights by obtaining a certificate from vital records stating that no father has filed a notice of claim of paternity with the putative father registry.
On March 13, 2012 the legislature amended Arizona Revised Statute Section 8-112 to provide that the social study required for a relative or stepparent adoption shall consist only of a state and federal criminal records check (i.e. fingerprinting) and a central registry check (i.e. child abuse clearance) if:
1. The prospective adoptive parent is the child’s stepparent who has been legally married to the child’s birth or legal parent for at least one year and has resided with the child for at least six months.
2. The prospective adoptive parent is the child’s adult sibling, by the whole or half blood, or the child’s aunt, uncle, grandparent or great grandparent and the child has resided with the prospective adoprtive parent for at least six months.
In Pima County, Arizona the adoptions examiner at the juvenile court conducts any required social studies for relative and stepparent adoptions. If the stepparent or relative meets the above requirements of length of marriage and child’s time in the home, the adopiton examiner will handle the fingerprinting and checking the central registry. The charge for this is $25 to the court, and $22.00 per person (cashier’s check or money order only) to the Department of Public Safety for the fingerprint check. Everyone in the home over the age of 18 must have a fingerprints clearance except for a child’s birth or legal parent.
If after receiving the fingerprint and child abuse clearances, the court determines that a full social study is necessary, the adoption examiner’s office charges for this more comprehensive study on a sliding fee scale. The fee is based upon the total annual gross income of the applicant(s) in the previous tax year. A copy of the most recent Federal tax return must be filed with the application for social study. The fee is increased by $30 for each additional child being adopted.
Fee Schedule for Relative/Step Parent Social Study:
$55,000 and over . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$600.00
$50,000 to $54,999 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$500.00
$45,000 to $49,999 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$400.00
$40,000 to $44,999 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$300.00
$35,000 to $39,999. . . . . . . . . . . . . . $200.00
$25,000 to $34,999 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$100.00
$0 to $24,999 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$0.00
In addition to the above court fee, my legal fee for handling a relative or stepparent adoption is $1,000.00 For this fee, I will prepare a consent for a parent to sign and will check the putative father registry. I will prepare all of the necessary adoption paperwork, file it with the court and attend the final adoption hearing. If the mother, or a father who has established paternity, is unwilling to consent to the adoption, it will be necessary to terminate his or her parental rights before an adoption petition can be filed. Termination actions are not included in the flat fee for adoptions.
The Pima County Juvenile Court, by local rule, requires that any stepparent seeking to adopt a stepchild must be married to the child’s parent for at least a year. A copy of the marriage license must be included in the application for a social study.