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If you want to adopt your step-child in Arkansas, it is not as difficult a process as adopting a child you have no relationship to. However, there are still important aspects of the process that stay the same. For example, the adoption must still go through the court and is a legal process that transfer parental rights to you. There are certain aspects of the adoption process that do not apply to a step-parent adoption, though.

The Arkansas Circuit Courts explains that to do a step-parent adoption you need to currently be the spouse of the child’s parent or the widow or widower of the child’s parent. It is also imperative to understand that you must have the child’s other parent give up his or her parental rights to the child. In some cases, the court may terminate the rights without the other parent’s consent, but this is rare, so you should expect to secure this consent. The other parent will have to be in court to give up his or her rights to the child.

You may also need the consent of the child you wish to adopt. If the child is 12 years old or older, he or she must tell the court that this is what he or she wants to happen. The court may not adhere to the child’s wishes if it feels the child’s wishes do not match what is best for the child. For example, if the court feels the adoption will provide a stable and safe life for the child but the child does not want the adoption, the court may allow it to go through anyway.

In a typical adoption, the law requires a home study and health, genetic and social histories. You will probably not need a home study, but the court can order one. However, you will not have to do the health, genetic and social histories as step-parent adoptions are exempt from those under the law. This information is for education and is not legal advice.