How to gain legal rights to a child that isn’t yours Part 2

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How to gain legal rights to a child that isn’t yours biologically…..Part 2

We often get inquires about how a person gains legal rights to a child that isn’t theirs biologically. The answers aren’t simple, nor are they straightforward. In this blog, we will do our best to provide you with a simple overview of a complex area of the law.

In Arizona, there are only really two ways to gain legal rights over a child that is not yours legally; Adoption and Guardianship. Each option has a very specific set of requirements and procedural steps that must be followed or the Court will not grant the requests. While many issues can be handled without an attorney, these are complex matters that are best handled with the assistance of someone experienced and knowledgeable about the processes. Here at RPM Law, we pride ourselves on our ability to accurately and honestly assess each case and its likely outcomes. NO ATTORNEY CAN GUARANTEE AN OUTCOME, and if you meet with someone who says they can, you should be very wary and see that as a red flag.

To be clear there are some additional methods within the Juvenile and Family Law arenas for achieving legal rights to a non-biological child, such as In Loco Parentis and/or Grandparents Rights, but those are very specific situations that will be covered in a future blog…

For now, we will tackle the issue of adoptions…


Adoptions permanently turn over the rights and responsibilities of caring for a child over to someone or a married couple who are not the biological parents. Adoptions are not revocable. They are permanent. Anyone who wants to explore an adoption makes needs to know that any and all parental rights must be severed before an adoption can take place.

One of the most common adoption situations we see here is when the biological mother/father has remarried and they want to have the stepfather/mother the legal father/mother of the child. In this situation, if the biological father/mother is in the picture at all, even if they aren’t the greatest, the adoption is unlikely to be successful unless the biological father/mother agrees to it. It should be additionally noted that even if the biological parent wants the adoption to happen, which includes their parental rights being terminated, the consent to adopt documents have very specific requirements, and have to be more than just a notarized statement.

Another common situation we see regarding potential adoptions is when grandparents or extended family members who have taken guardianship of a minor may feel like guardianship is not permanent enough and may want to take over the parenting role completely. Again, the parents’ rights need to be terminated before any potential adoption can take place.

We have recently experienced an influx in consultations regarding same-sex couples wanting to adopt following the Supreme Court s’ recent recognition of same-sex marriages. This is an area of particular difficulty, primarily because adoption laws in Arizona have not quite caught up with the Supreme Court Decision validating same-sex marriages. This has resulted in some confusion in the Courts about who can adopt. As the statutes currently read, “Any adult resident of this state, whether married, unmarried or legally separated, is eligible to qualify to adopt children. Husbands and wives may jointly adopt children.” The same statute later goes on to say, “If all relevant factors are equal and the choice a married man and woman certified to adopt and a single adult certified to adopt, placement preference shall be with a married man and woman.” Clearly, Arizona law remains incredibly discriminatory against same-sex couples when it comes to adoption.

Finalizing an adoption can be a difficult and complicated process that requires a lot of paperwork being assembled and anything missing can draw out the process unnecessarily. Hiring an attorney to handle it can be a huge help and will streamline and simplify things.

If you or someone you know is facing a situation where adoption is an appropriate option, contact us ASAP for a FREE CONSULTATION (520)740-1802 or via email

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