Family

Stepparent adoption laws in California

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As a stepparent, if you desire to adopt your spouse’s or partner’s child, you must file a petition with the family law court in the country of your residence to establish yourself as a legal parent of the child. This is in accordance with section 9000 of the California Family Code.

You are generally asking the court for permission to be legally responsible for your stepchild when you file a petition for stepparent adoption. In the assumption of successful adoption, the child will become your legal child which means you will be responsible for the health, safety, and well-being of the child.

Legal procedural events must occur for the family law court to grant your petition. Obtaining consent from both biological parents of your stepchild is crucial. An investigation required by the court will be performed to ensure that you are fit to be a legal parent.

Section 3020 states that the court wants to be sure that your stepchild has frequent and continuing contact with his or her biological parents. If in case either of the child’s biological parents is opposed to the adoption and/or still wants to be the legal parent, it will be hard to obtain an adoption. If you really are pursuant about this legal matter, it is best to have an experienced stepparent adoption lawyer.

Types of adoptions

Stepparent or domestic partner adoption

The most common and simplest type of adoption because either of the child’s biological parents still remains as the child’s legal parent.

This may be applicable on the grounds that the spouse or domestic partner of the child’s legal parent will adopt the child, provided that the couple is legally married or registered as domestic partners.

An independent, agency, or international adoption

Independent adoption

A kind of adoption where the Department of Social Services (or other agencies for the matter) is not involved with the case. This means that the parental rights of the child’s biological parents do not have to be terminated if the existing and adopting parents will agree.

Agency adoption

A kind of adoption where a licensed adoption agency or the Department of Social Services is involved with the case. The adopting parents will then gain parental rights to the child.

International adoption

A kind of adoption where the child to be adopted was born in another country. The adopting parents will then gain parental rights to the child.

Checklist in completing a stepparent adoption petition

  • Fill out an Information Sheet and Questionnaire—acquire this from the Probate Clerk’s Office at the Downtown Superior Court or call Social Services.
  • Gain the biological parent’s consent to give up his or her custody of the child. Acquire the consent form from the Stepparent Adoption Investigator at Social Services.
  • Mail your completed Information Sheet and Questionnaire.
  • The Department of Social Services will reach out and schedule a visit to your home. An investigation will follow after several months which will also cover an interview with the child. It is best to keep the child aware that you are trying to adopt him or her.
  • Call the Calendar Clerk at the Probate Department to schedule your hearing when you get your file-stamped copy of the Stepparent Adoption report.
  • You must attend the Adoption Hearing together with the custodial parent and the child. Be sure to be at the court at least 20 minutes before your scheduled time. Let the clerk know of your attendance.

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