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How to Navigate Terminating Parental Rights for an Adopted Child

If you are seeking to adopt a stepchild in California, one of the steps you will have to take is to terminate the parental rights of the biological parent who will no longer be in the picture as a result of your adoption of the child. For example, if you are a man who has married the mother of a child, then you will need to have the biological father’s parental rights terminated through a court order. Likewise, if you are the biological father or mother of a child and the other parent is working with a new partner to adopt your child, you may face loss of your parental rights through a court order. Below, we provide an overview of the process for termination of parental rights.

The Adoption Investigation

Before a court will approve an adoption by a stepparent, an adoption investigator will generally conduct a brief investigation into the parent’s background and the proposed family situation to make sure that the adoption will be in the interests of the child, and a report will be issued to the presiding court.

Serving the Other Parent

Prior to the court approving the adoption however, the court must order that the biological parent’s rights be terminated. To accomplish this, several things must occur. First of all, the parent with whom the adopting parent will be sharing parenting responsibilities must consent to the adoption.

The adopting parent must file a petition to have the biological parent’s parental rights terminated and serve this petition on the biological parent. If the biological parent cannot be found, then certain procedures must be followed in publishing notification of the petition, but the court can still eventually grant the petition if those procedures are followed.

The Other Parent’s Response and Potential Hearing

The biological parent can consent to the termination of his or her parental rights, but by doing so that parent is giving up his or her right to seek custody or visitation at a later time and the law will view his or her relationship with the child as essentially non-existent as it will be replaced with the relationship with the adoptive parent.

If the biological parent does not consent to the termination of parental rights, then the court will review submissions from both sides for and against the termination action and will set a hearing date to hear oral arguments from the parties and their attorneys.

How the Court Decides

California family law courts will look to the best interests of the child sought to be adopted in determining whether it should terminate parental rights in favor of another parent’s adoption. As part of its analysis, the court will want to see that the child consents to the adoption if he or she is 12 or older. In addition, the court will terminate parental rights and approve a stepparent adoption only when it is convinced that each adopting parent:

  • Is at least 10 years older than the child
  • Will treat the child as his or her own
  • Will support and care for the child
  • Has a suitable home for the child, and
  • Agrees to adopt the child

Get Help in Your Adoption / Parental Rights Matter

Whether you are seeking to retain parental rights or to terminate the parental rights of another as part of an adoption, having an experienced family law attorney on your side to present your best arguments can be critical to your success. The Pasadena family law attorneys at Kearney Baker work with clients across Southern California in helping them reach the best possible results for parents and children alike. For help with any family law matter you are facing, please contact the experienced, compassionate family law attorneys at Kearney Baker today at 626-768-2945.

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