Adoption does not only happen with children. Families may become united later in life and wish to make it official with an adoption. Adult adoptions often happen to obtain legal rights or legalize an existing parent/child relationship. Whether you have remarried, reunited with adult children, or simply wish to adopt someone over the age of 18, adult adoption is an available option for consideration.
Why Legalize an Adult Adoption?
Adopting a child has certain advantages. Not only does an adoption give you legal rights to decide the child’s education, living arrangements, and other important factors, but it also gives your child access to your health insurance and other benefits. Adopting an adult does not offer these advantages, as the adoptee is already old enough to legally make these decisions for him or herself. However, adult adoption has its own important benefits.
One of the most common reasons to adopt an adult is for inheritance purposes. When the courts legalize and adult adoption, the adoptee can then inherit his or her adoptive parents’ assets after death. The courts will give the adoptee a new birth certificate and sever any existing legal relationships with custodial or biological parents. When the adoptive parents pass away, they can leave property or financial assets to the adopted adult more easily.
Adult adoptions may also occur so that someone can care for an adult with a disability. The party can assume responsibility for a mentally challenged adult or someone with a physical disability. Legalizing the adoption gives the responsible party the right to make decisions on the adult’s behalf. The third reason is to simply formalize an existing child/parent relationship. Parents may wish to adopt an adult who has become a stepchild or whom they have fostered. Biological parents may adopt an adult child they reunited with for the courts to formally acknowledge them as parents.
How to Adopt an Adult in California
In most cases, the new adult family member only has to voluntarily agree to the adoption for the courts to accept the request. This occurs in an adoption agreement, a form both the adoptive parent and the adoptee must sign and date. The agreement states that both parties assume the legal relationship and associated duties of parent and child.
The guidelines and regulations for adult adoption vary state by state. In California, the person adopting must be at least 10 years older than the adoptee. The person adopting must file a petition, an adoption agreement, and an order of adoption with the courts. One can type these files on pleading paper, found at most stationary stores. There are no Judicial Council forms for adopting an adult.
The person adopting (the petitioner) must ask the court to make an Order to approve the adoption. It is best to hire a family law attorney to help with the document preparations to ensure you include all of the required information. You need to state your information, why you want to adopt, the name of your spouse (if applicable) and the names and ages of your children, and the date the adult signed the adoption agreement. Attach any consent forms and a copy of the adoption agreement. You must then request a court hearing to finalize the adoption.
If the judge approves the adoption agreement created between you and the adult, he or she will sign an Order of Adoption. Preparing this order is complicated, and typically requires the help of an attorney. It is rare for a judge to reject an adult adoption agreement, but this is possible if the judge suspects fraud or if there is an existing sexual relationship between the petitioner and the adoptee. Always consult an attorney for help filing for adult adoption.