What is the cost of a stepparent adoption? Inquiring minds definitely wish to know! Just about every family who is looking into having a stepparent adoption completed for their family, wants to know just how much of a financial commitment, or burden, they are getting themselves into. Everyone wants to know the bottom line, the final financial blow that the adoption process will be, yet because each adoption is different, as no two cases are the same, the same holds true for the cost of the adoption.
Some states require that you hire a lawyer for the process, which automatically raises the cost of your adoption. Each lawyer has their own fee scale, some charging a set fee, or flat rate, for stepparent adoptions, as long as they are not being contested, while others strictly charge by the hour contested adoption or not. Some states also require that a Guardian Ad Litem be appointed for the child, as well as a home study to be performed as part of the adoption process, again these are all the financial responsibility of the petitioning family. Sometimes you can ask the court to waive the home study as well as the Guardian Ad Litem for the child, which can put quite a large chunk of money back in your wallet.
There is also the cost of duplicate legal forms that you will need for the adoption process. Marriage certificates, divorce decrees, birth certificates, and/or a death certificate if one of the biological parents has died. Many times lawyers request three sealed, certified copies of each of the forms just listed, which means you will be paying for three copies of each. If you already have copies of the forms, the courts may not require you to get the duplicate copies, which can also save you some money.
There are court filing fees which can range anywhere from $25 all the way to $250 depending on where you live. If you cannot find the non-custodial parent in order to have him or her legally served (again a fee based service) than you will have to pay to have a public notice run in the paper, which can run anywhere from $350-$600 depending on what your local paper charges, how long the notice runs, how long the notice itself is, and how many editions of the paper the notice will be featured in.
If the non-custodial parent will not consent to the adoption, and decides to fight it, that will add time and money into the process. As the case drags on, lawyers fees will pile up, once again adding to the bottom line of the adoption cost. With so many different variables that go into a stepparent adoption, and the rules and fees differing not only from state to state, but county to county within states, giving even a ballpark estimate is not an easy thing to do. For an uncontested stepparent adoption, where everything ran smooth with a streamlined adoption process used in the state, the most common number is roughly $2,500. That is not so much a bottom line that I am giving to you, as more of a minimum, a baseline to go off of. Take that number and then add the two words “and up” and then you will have your ballpark estimate for a stepparent adoption!