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Maricopa County Attorney’s Office will not help same-sex stepparents adopt

LISTEN: Challenges abound for Arizona same-sex stepparents who wish to adopt

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said his office would not assist same-sex stepparents in adoptions until ordered to do so by a federal court or the state Legislature.

Montgomery issued a statement Thursday saying his office would not provide adoption services to same-sex stepparents who want to legally adopt their partner’s child.

“This office has never provided adoption petition services in same-sex stepparent situations,” the statement read. “Whether we have provided adoption petition services to individuals who are homosexual is unknown since our office does not solicit that information when fulfilling our legal duties and responsibilities under Arizona law.”

A family law attorney said Montgomery’s understanding of the ruling was flawed. But Claudia Work also acknowledged she wasn’t aware of any same-sex stepparent whose adoption attempt has been rejected.

Couples can opt to file adoption paperwork themselves or hire an attorney, but MCAO typically offers adoption services at a more affordable rate.

Though his office is responsible for filing adoption petitions and representing prospective adopters in uncontested hearings, Montgomery said a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking a ban on gay marriage in Arizona does not affect adoptions.

“It’s ridiculous the position they [MCAO] are taking,” Work, who heads the Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity of the State Bar of Arizona, said. “If they do not see a prohibition or a definition of marriage within the statute that is contrary to the law that they already accepted as the law in Arizona… the law does not need to be changed.”

Work said Arizona’s adoption laws do not provide provisions based on gender.

“Once the couple has proven they are legally married, whether they are homosexual or heterosexual, they now qualify for a stepparent adoption as long as there are no other impediments,” she said.