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Can I Adopt My Stepchild?

The relationship between a stepparent and their stepchild can be extremely close. In some circumstances, the stepparent might wish to make their relationship more permanent and legal through an adoption. An adoption can help make your family unity feel more united and concrete, and can also allow the stepparent more of a role in the child’s upbringing. If you are interested in adopting your stepchild, find out what criteria must be met and how the adoption process works.

Stepparent Adoptions in California

Adoptions by stepparents are some of the most common types of adoptions. They are unique in that one of the child’s biological parents remains a parent. In these types of adoptions, the process is much simpler if you and the child’s parent are married or registered as domestic partners. How the process will go depends greatly on the involvement of the child’s other biological parent. If the stepparent was involved in the child’s life since birth, and the other biological parent was not, the adoption process could be more straightforward. However, if the other parent will not relinquish parental rights, the adoption process could be a bit more extensive.

The Process

The adoption process that follows depends on the role the other biological parent plays in the child’s life. In most cases, the stepparent wishing to adopt is the custodial parent, meaning he or she spends more time with the child and is in charge of most major medical, educational, and recreational decisions. In some cases, though not all, this means the other parent is not involved in the child’s life. When the other parent is not involved, it can make proceeding with a stepparent adoption much simpler.

In order to adopt your stepchild, you must follow the following steps:

  • Fill out the appropriate forms: There are numerous documents both the custodial parent and the stepparent must fill out before the stepparent can legally adopt their stepchild. These forms include information about the child, their conception, the involvement of all parents, and other key information. There are numerous forms involved, and which forms you file depend on your specific circumstances. The forms must then be filed with the court for a small filing fee.
  • Obtain consent: The stepparent will need consent from various different parties in order to adopt their stepchild. Their spouse or domestic partner must consent to the adoption, and the child must as well. The other biological parent must also provide their consent and relinquish their parental rights. If they do not voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, you will have to take them to court in order to terminate their parental rights.
  • Adoption investigation with family services: In most cases, The Department of Social Services will also get involved to determine whether or not the adoption is in the best interest of the child. However, in certain circumstances they may not.
  • Going to court: There will be an adoption hearing in order to continue with the adoption. If the other parent does not give their consent to the adoption, you will need to file a petition to terminate their parental rights before the hearing takes place. If the other parent is absent, you must put a notice in the newspaper and discuss other potential issues with your attorney. At the hearing, the judge will make a final decision regarding approval of the stepparent adoption.

The adoption process can be complicated, even for stepparent adoptions. If you want to adopt your stepchild, or your spouse wants to adopt your child, make sure you are prepared for the legal process to come. Our experienced adoption lawyer can discuss your situation and guide you through the adoption process, simplifying things as much as possible and helping your family along the way.

Contact Singleton Smith Law Offices, discuss your case with our Murrieta family law attorneys.