Stepparent adoptions are one of the most common forms of adoption in California and are often simpler than other forms of adoption because one of the child’s birth parents retains parental rights. However, there are still specific procedures with which families must comply before a stepparent adoption can be finalized, so if you are interested in adopting your stepchild you may want to consider reaching out to a Pleasanton stepparent adoption attorney who can walk you through the process.
Filing a Petition for Adoption
Stepparents who are interested in adopting their partner’s biological child must first submit a petition with the appropriate court. This requires the parties to complete an information sheet and a questionnaire. At this point, a court investigator will be assigned the case and request additional information, including:
- Certified copies of the child’s birth certificate;
- The marriage license for the stepparent and the child’s birth parent;
- Any child custody or child support agreements between the child’s birth parents; and
- If applicable, the child’s other parent’s death certificate.
A social services representative may also interview the child, as well as his or her birth parent and stepparent before allowing the proceeding to move forward.
At this point, before a stepparent adoption can proceed, the child’s absent birth parent must agree to give up his or her parental rights. In many cases, the social services representative can help obtain the birth parent’s consent, but only if his or her whereabouts are known. If the child’s other parent does not agree to give up his or her parental rights willingly, the stepparent will need to file a petition to have those rights terminated by the court. In most cases, parental rights are terminated through abandonment, which requires a judge to assess whether there is evidence of child support payments, or visitation with the child. If the court finds that the noncustodial parent abandoned the child, then his or her parental rights will be terminated and the adoption can proceed.
Once the child’s absent parent has either consented to the adoption or had his or her parental rights terminated, and the custodial parent has consented to the adoption, the parties will need to attend a final hearing. The judge will then assess whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child before finalizing the adoption.
Contact an Experienced Pleasanton Stepparent Adoption Lawyer
Stepparent adoptions are usually joyous occasions. Unfortunately, the process of finalizing an adoption is not always simple, especially if the noncustodial parent refuses to consent. In these cases, having the advice and guidance of an attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of a case and the speed and ease with which it is resolved, so if you are interested in pursuing the adoption of your stepchild, feel free to call the Law Office of James P. White at (925) 271-0999. A member of our legal team is standing by and eager to address your adoption-related questions and concerns.