Under Virginia law only certain persons over 18 years of age can be adopted by another adult. Adult adoptions usually involve family members, like a step-parent who has stood in loco parentis (in the place of the parent) for at least three months. The adult adoption is also permitted for a “close relative”, which is defined as someone who is the person’s grandparent, great-grandparent, adult nephew or niece, adult brother or sister, adult uncle or aunt, or adult great uncle or great aunt.
Virginia does allow for adult adoptions by strangers or non-relatives, for good cause shown, as long as the adult adoptee is at least 15 years younger than the adopting party. In all adult adoptions, the Virginia law requires that the parties have known each other for at least one year.
The petition for an adult adoption is filed in the circuit court in the county where the adoptive parent(s) reside. The petition will include the identifying information of the parties, as well as the relationship of the parties. The consent of the parents of the adult adoptee is not required. The adult adoptee, however, will be required to consent to the adoption in all cases. While often waived in adult step-parent or relative adoptions, the court will require an investigation and report for adult adoptions involving strangers and/or non-relatives.
An adult adoption is a great way to create a permanent legal family structure that has already been in place emotionally as well as make estate planning decisions. An adult adoption creates in the parties the same rights and responsibilities to each other as though the adoptee was born to the adoptive parent.
In sum, to qualify for an adult adoption in Virginia, the adoptee must meet one of the following requirements:
(1) A stepchild 18 years of age or over whom the petitioners have stood in loco parentis (like a parent) for a period of at least three months;
(2) A close relative, as defined in Virginia Code section 63.2-1242.1, 18 years of age or older;
(3) Any person 18 years of age or older who is the birth child of the petitioners or who has resided in the home of the petitioners for at least three months before becoming 18 years of age; or
(4) Any person 18 years of age or older, for good cause shown, provided the person to be adopted is at least 15 years younger than the petitioners, and the petitioners and the person to be adopted must have known each other for at least one year before filing the petition for adoption.
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