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Adoption in Ohio

There are several types of adoptions such as step-parent adoptions, private adoptions, adult adoptions. Once a parent remarries, they may wish for their new spouse to adopt their child, especially when the other natural parent is no longer a part of the child’s life. The state of Ohio may also permit a child in the state’s custody to be adopted if a court determines that the adoption is appropriate and is best for the child. A person may also arrange to privately adopt a child from their birth parents.

The Adoption Process in Ohio

Adoptions take place in the probate court, a division of the common pleas court in each county, regardless of the age of the person to be adopted. The adoption process can be a lengthy process if both natural parents do not agree with the adoption. Ohio allows both adoption agencies and attorneys to assist in the adoption process and often discourage parties from proceeding without proper legal assistance. The basic process for a step-parent adoption is as follows:

  1. AdoptionThe person wishing to adopt contacts an attorney;
  2. The attorney prepares all necessary paperwork for the adoption;
  3. The attorney files the paperwork in the appropriate probate court along with the filing fee;
  4. Notice of the adoption is sent to the natural parents;
  5. A home study is conducted at the place of the adoptive parent;
  6. A hearing is held where evidence is presented against and in support of the adoption if both natural parents do not agree to the adoption;
  7. The Court makes a final determination as to whether the adoption can take place.

 

Requirements for an Adoption in Ohio

The state of Ohio does not permit a child to be adopted without proper assurance that the child will be in a safe environment. There are many requirements for a step-parent wishing to adopt a child, and potentially even more for a non-family member to adopt a child. The main items required for a step-parent adoption include a home study conducted by an investigator appointed by the Court, a criminal background check, full disclosure of all cases the step-parent has been a party to involving children, and full disclosure of the physical and mental condition of members of the household. The step-parent and natural parent must also be married for a minimum amount of time prior to filing for adoption. Some courts have additional requirements for an adoption such as letters of recommendation.

Parents Consent to Adoption in Ohio

When the natural parents consent to the adoption of their child the process is usually much quicker. A court will often not accept a parent’s consent unless an adoption agency or attorney is involved in the case to ensure that the parents are fully aware of the consequences. In a step-parent adoption, it is highly unlikely that the natural parent/spouse would not agree to their new spouse adopting the child. Some natural parents realize that they are not in fact a “parent” to their child and have not been involved in their life and consent to a step-parent adopting the child. Where both parents agree to the adoption, this consent can be expressed to the Court and will greatly assist in the adoption taking place.

When Consent to Adoption is Not Necessary

The Ohio Revised Code provides a set of circumstances where consent from a natural parent is not necessary for an adoption to take place. Essentially, consent is unnecessary where the parent has failed to maintain contact or support the child for at least twelve months immediately preceding the filing for adoption. If a natural parent pays child support through the child support agency, consent will likely be required or a hearing need to take place. If you have questions regarding whether consent of a natural parent is necessary, contact a licensed Ohio attorney that assists in adoptions.

Important Considerations Prior to Adoption

Ohio treats adoptions as a permanent change and is highly unlikely to allow a completed adoption to be altered. An adoption eliminates all parental rights of the other natural parent including visitation and child support. An adopted child can no longer inherit from the natural parent (unless provided in a will) and the natural parent can no longer inherit from the adopted child. If a step-parent adopts a child and the marriage terminates, the step-parent may be liable for child support for the adopted child and may pursue visitation and other parental rights as if they were the natural parent.

If you have adoption questions or need assistance filing for adoption, contact a licensed Ohio attorney.