Step-Parent Adoptions in Ohio

This article was written by attorney James W. Slater of the Ohio law firm Slater & Zurz LLP. Slater & Zurz and shared with us here at the Law Offices of William L. Geary.

More and more step-parents in Ohio are seeking to adopt a step-child.  To start the adoption process, the step-parent (“Petitioner”) needs to file a Petition for Adoption (“Petition”).  The Petition contains information about the step-parent and the child that step-parent wishes to adopt.  In certain Ohio counties, a Supplemental Petition for Adoption must also be filed. The Supplemental Petition contains additional information about employment, military service, previous marriages and other children.

The Petition for Adoption must be served upon the child’s biological parents. Both biological parents must sign documents consenting to the adoption by the step-parent.  Both biological parents must also be served with a notice of the date of the adoption hearing.

In addition to the Petition, there will be other requirements spelled out by the Probate Court. Typically, a court-assigned assessor will visit the home where the child will be living and make a report to the court. Other documentation may also be required such as reference letters from the step-parent’s employer, relatives and friends. The step-parent must also obtain a medical report from a physician and a criminal record check will be performed.

The Probate Court will conduct a hearing where the step-parent, the child and the step-parent’s spouse (child’s biological mother or father) will all be interviewed. After the court hearing, the court will issue a decree of adoption. The decree may be temporary at first and finalized after a period of six months. In some cases, the court may issue a final decree immediately.

If a biological parent does not provide his or her written consent to the adoption, the adoption cannot take place. However, there are two exceptions to obtaining a biological parent’s consent.

First, the consent of the biological parent is not necessary if the parent has not provided financial support for more than one year prior to the petition for adoption by the step-parent.

Then second exception is if the biological parent has not, without justification, had any contact with the minor child for more than one year prior to the step-parent filing the petition for adoption.

If either of these two exceptions is proven in Court, the adoption will be approved by the Probate Court without the written consent of the biological parent.

This article was written by attorney James W. Slater of the Ohio law firm Slater & Zurz LLP. Slater & Zurz has been representing clients throughout Ohio with all types of legal issues for over 40 years. The law firm has handled over 30,000 personal injury related cases and helped clients receive more than $150,000,000 in verdicts and settlements. For a free consultation with an experienced attorney, in the Akron area, please call (614) 289-1227 or visit

In the Columbus Ohio area call the Law Offices of William L. Geary at (614) 289-1227 or contact us at