Columbus, Ohio Stepparent Adoption Attorney
Friedman Law Offices provides representation in the area of step-parent adoption throughout Columbus and Central Ohio. Friedman Law Offices is available to assist you in all phases of your step-parent adoption case. Call today to schedule a free consultation – (614) 228-2100
Ohio Stepparent Adoption – What Does It Mean For The Adopting Parent?
Under Ohio law, when a stepparent goes through the adoption process, the legal relationship that is formed is identical to the relationship between a child and biological parent. In fact, after a stepparent adoption, a new birth certificate is issued that lists the adoptive parent as the child’s natural parent. An adoptive parent has the right to seek custody or visitation (parenting time) in the event of a divorce. Similarly, in the event of a divorce, an adoptive parent can be obligated to pay child support for the care of the child. It is very important to speak with a qualified Ohio Stepparent Adoption Attorney prior to beginning the adoption process to ensure that you understand the resulting rights and obligations.
Ohio Stepparent Adoption – What Does It Mean For The Biological Parent?
Under Ohio adoption law, when a stepfather completes the adoption process, the parental rights of the natural father are terminated. Similarly, when a stepmother completes the adoption process, the parental rights of the natural mother are terminated. When the parental rights of the natural parent are terminated that parent loses the right to compel visitation (parenting time) with the child. The termination of parental rights also ends the obligation of the natural parent to pay child support.
Stepparent Adoption & Name Changes:
Where the adopting parent is the stepfather, the child can take the adoptive father’s last name.
Ohio Stepparent Adoption Law & Consent Requirement:
As a general matter, most adoption cases require consent of both natural parents (assuming that both parents are alive). An Ohio stepparent adoption lawyer can assist you to determine if consent would be required in your particular case. Ohio law specifically mandates that the following people must consent, in writing, to the adoption:
- The mother of the child
- The father of the child, if any of the following apply:
- The minor was conceived or born while the father was married to the mother;
- The minor is his child by adoption:
- Prior to the date that the adoption petition was filed a parent-child relationship was established during a court proceeding;
- If the father had acknowledged paternity and the acknowledgement had become final.
- The putative father of the child;
- Any person or agency that has permanent custody of the child
- The child, if over the age of 12, unless the court determines that the minor’s consent is not needed
Ohio Stepparent Adoption – Where Consent Is Not Necessary:
Ohio law recognizes certain circumstances where it is not necessary to get the consent of the natural parent. The most common situation where consent is not necessary arises when the natural parent fails to “provide more than de minimis contact with the minor or to provide for the maintenance and support of the minor as required by law or judicial decree for a period of at least one year immediately preceding either the filing of the adoption petition…”
The Supreme Court of Ohio recently decided a case dealing precisely with the issue of the consent requirement where the father failure to pay child support or maintain contact with the minor child. In this particular case the parties had gotten divorced and the mother had custody of the minor child. Pursuant to the divorce decree the father was ordered to pay $1,000 a month in child support. The father made his child support payments for approximately 7 years. Beginning in March 2007 the father stopped making his child support payments and had no contact with the child. However, the father did send the child a gift card for $125 for Christmas and an additional $60 for the child’s birthday. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that:
- The Father failed to provide maintenance and support without justifiable cause for the year preceding the filing of the adoption petition. Therefore, the father’s consent to the adoption was not required
- The Christmas and Birthday gifts did not constitute maintenance and support because they were not payments required by law or judicial decree.
Call today to speak to a Columbus Ohio Stepparent Adoption Lawyer