Being a good parent has nothing to do with DNA. Parenthood requires love and respect. Sometimes, the best options for legal guardianship and parenthood are stepparents. Because it is not required or obligatory, adopting a spouse’s biological child is a voluntary act in strengthening the parent-child relationship and benefiting a child’s life.
The Westlake Village stepparent adoption attorneys at The Law Offices of Ronald K. Stitch, know how valuable stepparents can be to children. We know how challenging the process is for stepparents to establish parental rights. We can stand by you and offer support in establishing your happy family.
Breaking Down the Stepparent Adoption Process
If you are considering adopting your spouse’s biological child, it can be a cumbersome process, but the journey to finalizing an adoption can be worth it when the results are a happy family.
Having a good lawyer will make these steps smoother and efficient. It is a big help to know what to expect in the California stepchild adoption process. Below is a list of the steps you can expect to encounter on your journey:
- Adoption Request: Step one is filing an Adoption Request in the county you reside in. The request requires information about the stepparent, the child, their relationship, and any information regarding other parents or guardians relevant to the adoption determination.
- Social Services Investigation: Step two requires forwarding the Adoption Request to the appropriate California social services agency, so they can investigate the proposed adoption. This includes gathering relevant identifying documents and conducting interviews of the adoptions participants. Native American children may require additional steps under federal law.
- Termination of Non-custodial Parental Rights: If other parents are still alive, their parental rights must be terminated before adoption. This frees other parents from obligations like providing child support and visitation. Sometimes, non-custodial parents willingly consent to parental rights termination, resulting in a quick signature on a form relinquishing their rights. Other times, parents may not consent or may be difficult to locate. This requires efforts to locate them or work with the court to obtain a termination.
- Court Hearing: The last step results in a formal and final court hearing where the adopting parent agrees to adopt the child. Putting the child’s best interests is the court’s priority. It is in the state’s interest to promote adoption whenever it benefits the child. Family and friends are often invited to attend this process to partake in the celebration.
When should I contact a lawyer?
Stepparents can do everything a biological parent can do—be a loving provider, offer a secure home environment, support, and mentor a child. Even when stepparents take the same parental responsibilities as biological parents, they are not afforded the same rights. When it comes to raising a child in a healthy and loving environment, biology is only happenstance.
The Westlake Village stepparent adoption attorneys at The Law Offices of Ronald K. Stitch understand the process and want to make it as easy as possible for you and your family. Contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or by calling 818-237-4574.