In most cases, stepparents end up being an important part of a child’s life. Divorce and separation can be difficult on a child, as can getting to know a new adult. However, in many cases, stepparents provide more stability in the lives of the children they love than the child has ever had before. Many stepparents make the decision to adopt the child in their life. At the Law Offices of Ronald K. Stitch, we want to talk about the process of stepparent adoption. It is not easy, and you may need help from a knowledgeable and experienced Westlake Village adoption attorney to get you through the steps.
What is stepparent adoption in California?
California Family Code Section 9000 lays out what the law regarding stepparent adoption. Any stepparent who wishes to adopt the child or their spouse can file a petition with the family law court to establish themselves as that child’s legal guardian. When a stepparent successfully completes this process, that child becomes legally theirs, and the stepparent will be responsible for the well-being of that child.
In order for a stepparent adoption to take place, both of the child’s biological parents must give their consent, though the California family court system wants to ensure that the child has “frequent and continuing contact” with both of their biological parents.
- If the other biological parent wants to remain the child’s legal guardian, the adoption process will become very difficult to complete.
During the adoption process, the judge will work to evaluate what is in the child’s best interests. Factors to be examined, under California Family Code Section 3011, include:
- The age, health, safety, and welfare of the stepchild
- Any history of domestic violence by you or either of the biological parents of the stepchild
- The duration and adequacy of the stepchild’s living arrangements
- The biological parents’ ability to care for the stepchild
- The amount of time that the stepchild has spent with the stepparent, as well as both biological parents
- The emotional relationship between the stepparent and the stepchild, as well as both biological parents and their child
Once the petition is filed with the court, a court date will be assigned. A petition will be served on the other birth parent letting them know that the stepparent is seeking to terminate the biological parent’s parental rights. If they agree, and the parental rights are terminated, you move on to an interview and investigation process.
- If the child is over 12 years of age, you will need their consent as well.
The interview and investigation (including a home visit), will be conducted by a social worker, licensed family therapist, or court investigator. The adoption will only move forward if all stages of this process are successful.
Let us get to work on your case today
If you are a stepparent considering adopting a child, you should secure legal assistance. This process can become complicated, but that should not keep you from doing this. At the Law Offices of Ronald K. Stitch, our qualified and experienced team is ready to get to work on your behalf. Our Westlake Village adoption attorneys will walk you through this process. If you have any other questions about this process, you can contact us for a free consultation by calling at 818-237-4574.