How Stepparent Adoption Works

In some blended families, a stepparent may want to be something more for their spouse’s child and wish to adopt the child legally as their own. Stepparent adoption brings joy to many families, but the process is slightly different than other types of adoption in California. At the law office of Kearney Baker in Pasadena, our team of knowledgeable family law attorneys is prepared to assist you and your family through every stage of a stepparent adoption. To learn more about this process, call or contact our office today to schedule a consultation of your case.

Voluntary Consent or Termination of Rights

The most significant difference between stepparent adoption and other forms of adoption is that a biological parent must give up their own legal rights to a child before a stepparent can adopt. A benefit of giving up parental rights is that the noncustodial parent no longer has to pay child support, but they also lose their right to visitation or decision making authority for the child. One way is to get the voluntary consent of a parent, but if the parent does not consent or cannot be found, the family may be required to file for the termination of parental rights in court. The court often requires a high bar in order to terminate a biological parent’s rights, which is why you should always have an experienced attorney on your case.

Social Services Investigation

Once parental rights are given up or terminated, the next step in the process is an investigation by Social Services. A number of documents will need to be collected for review, and an investigator will be assigned to your case. The investigator will interview the biological parent, stepparent, and child or children involved in the case. They will also complete a background check on the stepparent, verify employment, check child abuse registries, and need at least three references to speak to the character of the stepparent. 

Hearing Date

If the investigator recommends the adoption, a hearing date is set. You must bring the adoption petition, the child or children being adopted, and the biological parent to the hearing. If the judge approves the adoption, an order is issued and the adoption between stepparent and child is legally binding. The family receives a copy of the adoption order for free, and an amended birth certificate is mailed to the family from the California Department of Health Services. An experienced attorney can ensure that all the proper documentation is collected for this hearing and that all stages of the stepparent adoption are completed to make this process as seamless as possible for you and your family.

Call or Contact Our Office Today

Are you interested in a stepparent adoption for your family or learning more about the process? Call the office or contact us today in Pasadena at Kearney Baker to discuss your legal options for adopting a stepchild with one of our experienced California family law attorneys.