There are many reasons why an adult would want to be adopted by another adult. The parties may want legal recognition of an existing parent-child relationship which for one reason or another could not be formalized while the adoptee was still a minor. Some may want the adoption for estate planning purposes. Whatever the reason, Utah law does allow for the adoption of an adult under specific circumstances.
Which adults can adopt another adult?
The adopting party must be a competent adult that is at least ten (10) years older than the adoptee. If a married couple is adopting an adult, only one of the adopting parties must be ten years older than the adoptee.
Which adults can be adopted?
Again, the adoptee must be at least ten (10) years younger than the adopting party. The adoptee must be a U.S. citizen or a legal resident. A “vulnerable adult” — someone who is sixty-five (65) or older or who has a mental or physical impairment substantially affecting the adult’s ability to manage their day-to-day activities — can still be adopted by another adult. However, this will require special Court approval following evaluations conducted by professionals.
Whose consent is required?
Even when the parties are eligible, competent, consenting adults, this does not mean that no other consent is necessary. If the adopting party is married, the consent of the spouse is required. If the adoptee is subject to a guardianship or custodianship, the guardian or custodian must also give consent.
If the adoptee is married, the adoptee’s spouse is entitled to notice of the petition to adopt, but their consent is not required.
Who is entitled to post-adoption notice?
Under Utah law, any individual that was a legal parent of the adult adoptee prior to the adoption is entitled to notice of the adoption after entry of the adoption decree. However, the court has discretion to waive this requirement for “good cause.” There are many circumstances that could be considered good cause to waive this notice requirement. Consult with an attorney to determine whether there would be good cause in your case.
Legal Consequences of Adult Adoption
Once the adult adoption is complete, the adult adoptee and the adopting adult have all rights and privileges of any other parent-child relationship. This means the parties have the right to inherit through the other if the individual died intestate (without a will or other estate planning instrument). Additionally, in the event of a debilitating illness or injury, important medical decisions may, depending on the marital status of the parties, fall into the hands of the adult adoptee or the adopting adult absent a contrary medical directive. You should strongly consider these consequences before filing a petition for adoption.
If you are looking to complete an adult adoption, our office would be happy to guide you through this process. Please call us at your convenience to setup an initial consultation.