Stepparent Adoptions in Ohio

“Can I adopt my spouse’s child?”


“Can I adopt my domestic partner’s child?”


“What is the process for a stepparent adoption?”


These are common questions at EQUES Law Group and I wanted to provide a brief overview of the topic.


First, to be eligible for a “stepparent adoption” in Ohio, the individual seeking the adoption (the Petitioner) must have been married to the minor’s parent for at least one year before submitting the adoption certificate. Often, partners who have been in a committed relationship for a long period, but are not married, will wonder if they can adopt the other person’s child. Unfortunately, Ohio law currently prohibits this as it would result in the termination of the natural parent’s parental rights.


Under Ohio Revised Code Section 3107.03, the following individuals may adopt in Ohio:


  • A husband and wife together, at least one of whom is an adult
  • An unmarried adult
  • The Unmarried minor parent of the person to be adopted
  • A Married adult without the other spouse joining as a petitioner if the following apply:
    • The other spouse is a parent of the person to be adopted and supports the adoption
    • The Petitioner and the other spouse are separated
    • The failure of the other spouse to join in the petition or to support the adoption is found by the court to be by reason of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or circumstances that make it impossible or unreasonably difficult to obtain either the support or refusal of the other spouse.


The second step in a stepparent adoption is crucial and involves obtaining consent from the biological parent or proving that it is not needed. In Ohio, only two people can be recognized as parents of a child, and if a stepparent adopts a child, it terminates the rights of the other biological parent who is not the spouse of the petitioner. To proceed with adoption, the consent of the other biological parent must be obtained, unless the petitioner can provide clear and convincing evidence that the other parent has failed to maintain more than “de minimis” (minimal) contact with the child or provide support for at least a year before the adoption filing.


If consent is obtained, the third step is preparing and filing the Petition for Adoption with the help of a licensed attorney. This petition will include certain biological information about the parties and the minor to be adopted and must include a certified copy of the birth certificate of the child, all required consents, and accountings. Some stepparent adoptions will require only a final accounting of any expenses paid in the adoption, others will require both a preliminary accounting and a final accounting. This is often just the attorney fees and court fees for the adoption. Accountings are required in every adoption in Ohio.


If the child is 12 or older, they must give their consent to the adoption during the hearing.


The procedures for stepparent adoption vary based on the county in Ohio. In most counties, an assessment or home study of the petitioner’s residence is not required, but in some instances, it may be necessary. In most cases, a stepparent adoption will only have one hearing, to finalize the adoption. The Judge or attorney will ask questions of the stepparent and biological parent, to establish that the adoption is in the best interests of the child, and to ensure all consents were filed and accountings were filed.  Then, the adoption will be finalized, an order for a new birth certificate will be authorized, and the stepparent adoption will then be listed on the child’s birth certificate as the parent! The child’s name can be changed during the adoption, if desired, but does not have to be changed.


If you are interested in pursuing a stepparent adoption, contact EQUES Law Group today for the representation you deserve!


Moriah E. Hinton
Associate Attorney


Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice, nor should be construed as providing legal advice or establishing an attorney-client relationship.

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