Are you looking to adopt your stepchild? If so, congratulations! Given the fact that you desire to become your stepchild’s legal parent proves that the child is fortunate to have you in their life.
You’ve heard of adopting children from orphanages, adopting an infant from a young unwed mother, and adopting a child overseas, but did you know that stepparent adoption is the most common type of adoption in the United States?
Once a stepparent adopts their stepchild, they are not only agreeing to be the child’s legal parent in every sense, they are taking full responsibility for their spouse’s child.
If the adoption goes through, the noncustodial parent (the parent who is not living with the child), will be absolved of their parental rights and responsibilities. This means they will no longer be obligated to financially support their child, nor will they have a right to child custody or visitation.
Adoptions are Governed by State Law
Stepparent adoptions are governed by state law. In California, once a stepparent adopts their stepchild, the relationship becomes permanent and it is exactly the same as a biological parent-child relationship.
In a stepparent adoption case, the stepparent must submit to an investigated by a social worker, and they will have to go to court.
Depending on the circumstances, the court may decide to end the other parent’s rights whether or not he or she agrees.
Since terminating parental rights is very serious, the court prefers not to grant a stepparent adoption unless the other birth parent is aware of the adoption and has the opportunity to go to court and argue their position before the judge.
After considering all of the facts of the case, the judge decides whether it’s in the child’s best interests to end the noncustodial parent’s rights or not.
If you wish to file a stepparent adoption case, it will be important for you to: 1) find the other birth parent, 2) obtain his or her written consent to adopt their child, and 3) obtain a court order that terminates the other parent’s parental rights.
If your spouse does not know who the other birth parent is, (e.g. the father is one of two men), or the presumed father won’t admit that he’s the father, or if the child’s father is not on the birth certificate, it can complicate matters, but a lawyer will guide you through this process.
If the whereabouts of the other parent is unknown, talk to an attorney to find out if the judge will want you to search for the other birth parent.
Stepparent adoptions are absolutely wonderful, however, you want to be guided by an experienced Encino adoption lawyer to ensure that your case is handled correctly.
To learn more, contact Cutter & Lax to work with a board certified family law specialist.