Are you thinking about adopting your partner’s child? Or are you in a same-sex marriage and want to ensure you and your spouse have the same legal rights and obligations as parents to your child(ren)? Ohio Adoption Records Law Changed: Here’s What You Need to Know

At The Obenour Legal Group, we deal extensively with family, adoption, and LGBTQ law. Our competent adoption attorney, Abbie Obenour, put together an Ohio adoption FAQs fact sheet for couples to learn more about second parent adoption, how it works, and more pertinent information.

Here is a list of second parent and adoption FAQs to serve as a primer before you begin the process.

Q: Do my partner and I have to be married in order to perform a second parent adoption?

A: Yes. In the state of Ohio, you can adopt as a single person or as a married couple only. In order for both partners to establish legal parenthood, they must be married to each other. In some counties, you also must be married for a full year before the court will grant an adoption.

Q: Why couldn’t we just appoint the second parent as a “legal guardian?” Isn’t it easier?

A: While it can easier and less expensive to appoint a second parent as the legal guardian or shared custodian of a child, there’s a crucial difference between adopting and guardianship/custody. Custodians and guardians have some, but not all, of the same parental rights and responsibilities as legal parents. The only way to establish legal parenthood for a child born prior to a marriage is stepparent adoption.

If you have questions about planning for care of your child in the event you pass away before they are grown, or protecting your parental rights, or establishing parental rights in a stepparent, or legal parental rights for child conceived with donor sperm, it is best to consult with a competent attorney. The law in this area is complicated and can be confusing. It is best to understand and make a plan while things are going well and everyone is on the same page.

Q: What if my partner and I divorce or break up after the second parent adoption?

A: In the case of divorce or separation, both parents have equal legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to custody, visitation, and child support. In second parent adoption law in Ohio, both the adoptive parent and the biological parent can petition the court for custody and visitation equally in the event of divorce. This applies to both LGBTQ couples and different sex couples.

Q: I’m married to one of the biological parents. Both biological parents of the child are involved in the child’s life, can I still adopt the child?

A: Maybe. If the child already has a second parent, that parent’s consent would likely be required for your adoption. There are limited circumstances where the second legal parent’s consent to a stepparent adoption would not be required, but it is tricky. If you are contemplating a stepparent or second parent adoption when the child already has two legal parents, it is best to consult with a competent adoption law attorney before proceeding.

If you are considering second parent or stepparent adoption in Ohio, contact Abbie Obenour with The Obenour Legal Group. Abbie’s extensive knowledge and experience in family and adoption law means she’s more than capable of providing legal advice and counsel. Contact The Obenour Legal Group today to schedule a consultation.