Overview of Step-Parent Adoption Laws in California
When you marry a spouse who has a child, or children, you may be interested in formally adopting your spouse’s children as your own. It is important to understand that the laws governing stepparent adoption are complex and it is perfectly understandable if you feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the process. This is when it makes sense to retain the services of an experienced and knowledgeable step-parent adoption lawyer in Novato to discuss the process.
When you hire a seasoned family law attorney in California, they can help ease your anxieties and walk you through the adoption process so you know what to expect and how long it will take to, hopefully, formalize your parental relationship with your step-child.
The average time for a step parent adoption in California to be completed is 2-4 months from filing.
California Law Governing Step-Parent Adoption
According to California Family Code § 9000, the adoption of a stepchild requires the written consent of the other birth parent. Without consent, the only other option is to get a court order terminating the other biological parent’s parental rights. To start this process, a step-parent seeking to adopt a child of the step-parent’s spouse or domestic partner can file a formal petition with a family law court to be recognized as the legal parent of their step-child.
When you file a petition for step-parent adoption, it is important to understand that you are asking the court for permission to become legally responsible for the welfare of your step-child, or step-children. This means that upon successful adoption, your step-child will become your child under the law.
Investigation is Required Before Your Adoption is Finalized
Some step-parents are surprised to discover that county and state officials will conduct a thorough investigation of your background (including a criminal background check via fingerprinting) before approving a step-parent adoption. The investigation is conducted because government officials want to ensure that your adoption will be in the best interests of your step-child.
There are some documents you will be asked to produce during the investigation, including:
• Certified copy of your step-child’s birth certificate;
• Certified copy of your marriage license;
• Certified copy of your birth certificate; and
• If either spouse has a prior marriage, then a copy of the dissolution order.
Securing Biological Parent's Consent is Important
When you are attempting to adopt your step-child, it is important to take affirmative steps to secure the consent of the biological parent who is no longer in the picture. There is a specific form that the birth parent needs to sign (i.e. the Consent to Adoption form). This form needs to be signed by the birth parent, notarized, and filed with the court.
Consent from Your Stepchild May Be Required
Once you secure the consent of the biological parent, you may need to obtain your step-child’s consent, depending on their age. Under California law, if your step-child is twelve (12) years of age or older, then your step-child needs to consent to the adoption. However, if your step-child is under the age of 12, then they do not have to consent to the adoption.
Have Questions About Adoption Laws in California? Schedule a Confidential Case Review with an Experienced Adoption Attorney in Novato Today
If you are looking to adopt a child in California, Castro Law Offices is here to help. We are a premier California law firm specializing in adoption issues, divorce, child custody, and all other issues concerning domestic relations. Castro Law Offices is based in Novato, California, but is ready and able to provide legal services and advice to clients in and around Marin County including Novato, San Rafael, Greenbrae, San Anselmo, Fairfax, Sausalito, Larkspur, West Marin, Ross, Mill Valley and Corte Madera. Contact Castro Law Offices today to schedule a confidential consultation.