Many families are built or extended through adoption. Most people are familiar with the purpose and nature of adoption – the creation of a permanent parent/child relationship between a child and the adopting parents.  When a child is adopted he or she is thereafter considered the child of the adopting parents and is entitled to the same rights and privileges as if he or she were born to the adopting parents.  This includes the right to inherit by or through the adoptive parents. Most people think of this process or are familiar with adoption as it relates to infants or children.

What many people may not know is that Delaware law also provides for the adoption of a person 18 years of age or over – an adult adoption.  Just as with the adoption of a child, when the decree of adoption issues for a person over the age of 18 “all the duties, rights, privileges and obligations recognized by law between parent and child shall exist between the [adoptive parent(s)] and the person or persons adopted, as fully and to all intents and purposes as if such person or persons were the lawful and natural offspring or issue of the petitioner or petitioners.”  13 Del. C. §954.  An adult adoption may be appropriate in a number of situations.  For example, someone with a strong bond to a step-parent who helped raise them may want and may choose to have that relationship formally recognized. In addition, and depending on the circumstances, the recognition of that parent/child relationship may also provide assistance in estate planning.

The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.


 Leslie Spoltore focuses her practice on family law, handling all aspects of the Delaware Family Court’s jurisdiction including, divorce, alimony, property distribution, prenuptial agreements, adoption, guardianship, permanent guardianship, child support, child custody, protection from abuse. She works out of the firm’s Wilmington, DE office and can be reached at 302-840-1110 or at Leslie.Spoltore@Obermayer.com