Filing for a stepparent adoption in California may be both an exciting and an intimidating time in your life. When a stepparent wishes to adopt, there are certain legal steps that must be taken. The work needed to complete an adoption, however, sometimes is cumbersome and even frustrating. If you want to learn more about the process of stepparent adoption, it is important to reach out to a skilled family law attorney. With nearly 30 years of experience, San Diego stepparent adoption lawyer Roseline D. Feral can answer your questions and address your concerns.Understanding the Stepparent Adoption Process
In California, a stepparent adoption allows a married stepparent to adopt their spouse’s child. In other words, stepparent adoption permits a person to become the legal father or mother of their spouse’s child. Once an adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents and children have the same rights and obligations as legal or biological parents and children. Typically, the child being adopted is a minor. However, it is also possible to adopt a stepchild who has reached adult age. It is important to note that, in California, stepparent adoption is also possible for same-sex couples.
A stepparent adoption ends the rights of one parent. If the child’s other parent continues to have rights over a minor child, that parent usually will need to consent to the adoption in order for the adoption to take place. By consenting to a stepparent adoption, the other parent agrees to give up all of their parental rights. In some cases, the court may determine that consent is not required, and the court may be able to terminate parental rights if one of the following is established:
- The parent abandoned the child;
- The parent is unfit; or
- The parent and the child are not in fact biologically related.
Children who are 12 or older must agree to a stepparent or domestic partner adoption for it to become final. As a result, the child is required to sign a consent form related to the adoption. Children under the age of 12 do not need to consent to the adoption, but it is still advisable to talk to them about what the adoption process means for their family and future.
A stepparent adoption requires a significant amount of paperwork, and people pursuing this step may benefit from consulting a stepparent adoption lawyer in San Diego who can make sure that everything is in order. Generally speaking, you will need the adoption request form, the adoption agreement form (Adopt-210), and the adoption order form (Adopt-215). Once the pertinent forms are completed, they must be filed in the court located in the county in which you reside. When you file the paperwork, you must pay a filing fee. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may apply for a fee waiver.
Before a stepparent adoption may be finalized, there will be an adoption hearing that must be attended by the custodial parent, the stepparent, and the child. If the child’s other parent is contesting the adoption, they will need to show up as well. It is important to bring copies of the forms that you have completed to the hearing, especially Adopt-210 and Adopt-215. If the judge approves the adoption, the adoption papers will be filed with the court, and the adoption will be formalized. The court will also provide you with a certified copy of the Order of Adoption.Discuss a Stepparent Adoption with a San Diego Attorney
A stepparent adoption may be an extremely rewarding experience. If you are a stepparent looking to officially adopt your stepchild, you need to speak to an experienced child custody attorney who can help. We understand the nuances of this area of law and can put our knowledge to use in your case. San Diego stepparent adoption attorney Roseline D. Feral also assists prospective parents in Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Encinitas, La Jolla, Oceanside, Escondido, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Valley Center, and Vista. To learn more about your legal rights and options, contact us online or call our office at 619-232-1010 for a free appointment. Alternatively, you can also reach Attorney Feral directly at 619-301-1191.