If you have a minor child, such as a niece, nephew, or grandchild, living with you in Ohio for more than one year, you may petition your county probate court to adopt that child, and the consent of the parents to the adoption may not be required.
As an example, you may have a young relative living with you pursuant to a legal custody order or guardianship granted in a prior court proceeding. The child’s parents are neglectful, not visiting or communicating with the child, nor providing financial support. If you want to adopt the child as your own, you may file a petition for adoption in your Ohio county’s probate court. The petition for adoption needs to be served, in most circumstances, upon the parents of the child.
A hearing is scheduled in the probate court to determine if the consent of the parents to the adoption is required. If clear and convincing evidence is presented that the parents have not had more than minimal contact with the child or have not provided financial support for the child for the past year, then the probate court judge may rule that the consent of the parents to the adoption is not required.
In real life, this typically means that both parents have not had regular visits or contact with the child during the year before the adoption petition was filed in court, or the minor child was placed in the home. Minimal sporadic contact with the child or minimal financial support for the child may not be sufficient to require parental consent, but this determination is to be made by the probate court judge.
Ohio law supports the adoption of children who are being cared for by responsible adults. If parents have, for all practical purposes, abandoned their children for an entire year, the parents should not be able to step back into their children’s lives to block an adoption. The parents should have been nurturing and supporting their children all along during their young lives.
If the judge decides that parental consent is not legally required, a determination must then be made about whether the adoption serves the best interests of the child.
If you have a child in your household whom you would like to adopt, please call attorney Mark Tipton of Tipton Law Firm, LLC. There is no fee to speak directly to the attorney about your situation, and the telephone number to call is 419-636-0010.
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