In Arizona, one adult may adopt another adult so long as certain conditions are met. First, the adult to be adopted must be at least 18 years old, but not older than 21, or must be a step-child, niece/nephew, cousin, or grandchild of the adopting person. For foster parents, they may adopt an adult who was placed in their care when the adult was a juvenile so long as the foster parent has maintained a continuous family relationship with the person for 5 years. Both adults must agree on the adoption.
The agreement by both adults for the adoption must be in writing. By state law, the agreement must contain certain information, which is where an attorney can come in handy. Among other things, the adoption agreement must state that the adults agree to assume toward each other the legal relation of parent and child (and have all of the rights and responsibilities of that legal relationship).
If the adopting adult has a spouse, then that spouse must give consent to the adoption. In many cases, the adopting adult’s spouse also wants to adopt, and both will be co-adoptors in the case. If the adult to be adopted has a spouse, then that spouse must also give consent to the adoption. However, the consent of the natural parents of the adult to be adopted is not needed for the adoption to be approved by the court. If the adult to be adopted has a child with another person who is not his/her spouse, then notice of the adoption may need to be provided to the child’s parent.
Once the adults are ready to move forward with the adoption, the court process is relatively simple, but requires very specific steps. A petition for adoption must be filed and include specific information supporting the adoption, including the agreement for the adoption. Some additional documents will also need to be filed with the court, such as birth and/or marriage certificates. After filing the petition, the court will set an adoption hearing date. If necessary, notice of the hearing date must be provided to interested persons (such as spouses of the adults involved). Also, a court investigator must complete an investigation to make sure the adoption is in the best interests of the parties and the public. Assuming all necessary documents have been filed and the investigation has been completed beforehand, the adoption hearing is a joyful event. The parties will need to be at the adoption hearing in person, and provide some basic testimony to confirm agreement of the adoption. The court will then grant the adoption and enter a decree of adoption, at which point the parties involved now have the legal relationship of parent/child as if the “child” were the natural child of the parent(s).
After the adoption is over, it is very important to get a certified copy of the decree of adoption as this will be needed to secure a new birth certificate and other documents. A certified copy can be obtained immediately after the adoption hearing and costs approximately $27.00 (in Maricopa County).
If you have any questions about an adult adoption in Arizona, please contact our firm.