An adult adoption is the adoption of any person who is 18 years of age or older.  California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are a few of the states that allow adult adoptions.  In contrast, Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Michigan, Nebraska and Ohio prohibit adult adoptions.

Should I Adopt an Adult?

There are different reasons to adopt an adult: 

  • Estate planning – There are laws that grant rights and privileges to the parent-child relationship (such as inheritance rights) and these rights apply to adoptive parent-child relationships as well.  So adult adoptions can help solve some estate planning issues, particularly if the adoptive parent dies intestate (i.e. without a will).
  • Real property taxes – In some states, adult adoptions may minimize tax obligations for real property.  In California, for example, real property transferred between parent and child is not reassessed for tax purposes. 
  • Emotional bonds – Adults with long-lasting emotional bonds may choose to formalize their relationship through an adult adoption.  For example, many adults choose to adopt their adult stepchildren. You may want to consult with Step-Parent Adoption Lawyers regarding this type of adoptive process.

There may be difficulties for some adult adoptions: 

  • Age – Some adoption laws require a minimum age difference between the adoptive parent and child.
  • Nature of the adoptive relationship – The incest laws of some states may prohibit adult adoptions where the adoptive parent and the adult are involved in an adoptive sexual relationship.

How Do I Adopt an Adult?

The specific rules for adoptions vary from state to state. Generally, however, the following must occur: 

  • File a petition – To become the parent of another adult, a petition to adopt must be submitted to and approved by the appropriate state court.
  • Obtain consent – Consent of the adoptee is necessary.  Spousal consent may also be required.
  • Receive an Order of Adoption – If a judge approves the petition, the judge will sign a formal court Order of Adoption.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Adopt an Adult?

Petitions to adopt are complicated to prepare.  A family law attorney is familiar with the adoption laws of your state and can help you properly fulfill the petition requirements.