When divorced parents re-marry, the new spouse, or stepparent, may want to adopt his or her new spouse/partner’s child from the previous marriage. This desired adoption is legally referred to as stepparent adoption. This is one of the most common types of adoption proceedings. The stepchild becomes entitled to all of the rights and privileges and subject to all of the obligations as if they were a child born to the adoptive stepparent.
Although most stepparent adoptions yield joyous outcomes, the road to achieving this can be difficult and complex.
Filing of the Stepparent Adoption Request
The first step in stepparent adoption is to file an Adoption Request with the presiding California court. This form will require the stepparent to provide information about:
– Adopting stepparent background
– Information about the child who is being adopted
– The relation of the stepparent to the child
– Any other information relating to parents and other guardians in the child’s life which will be relevant to the adoption determination
Social Services Investigation
After the stepparent has filed the Adoption Request with the presiding court, it will be forwarded to the appropriate California social services agency.
That agency will briefly investigate the proposed adoption, including but not limited to gathering relevant identifying documents (e.g. birth certificates) and interviewing all relevant parties to the adoption.
Most of the investigations performed social services in stepparent adoption cases are straightforward. The reason is that the state’s interest is in promoting adoption whenever it is in the best interests of the child.
Terminating Non-Custodial Parental Rights
If a child’s other parent is still alive, that parent’s parental rights will have to be terminated before the stepparent can legally adopt the child. This termination will free that parent from obligations such as providing child support. It will also terminate other rights, such as court-ordered visitation.
Although most non-custodial parents willingly consent to the termination of their parental rights, things can get challenging when that parent is either difficult to find or will not consent to termination of rights.
The final step in the stepparent adoption process is a court hearing before the family court judge who will make a determination on whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child. This often includes the judge directly speaking with the child. Again, although certain complications can arise, courts are generally in support of stepparent adoptions whenever it is in the child’s best interests.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Family Law Attorney
For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Central Valley family law attorney Gurjit Srai, please call (209) 323-5558 or (559) 449-1447, or complete our online form.