Stepparent Adoption in California

When a stepparent adopts the minor child of their spouse, he/she gains all the rights and responsibilities of a biological parent in order to provide the child with support. According to California Family Code Section 9000, a stepparent—along with his/her spouse and biological parent of the child—may file a petition with the court to make a stepchild become his/her legal child.

To qualify for stepparent adoption, you must either be married or a registered domestic partner of one of the biological parents of your stepchild. The legal process also involves the termination of the other biological parent’s parental rights.

If the other biological parent consents to the termination of parental rights, then a judge will grant you parental rights for your stepchild. In contrast, if the other parent does not want to terminate his/her parental rights, then you must ask the court to terminate the other parent’s rights.

Remember, you must prove that stepparent adoption is in the best interests of your stepchild and present evidence that the other biological parent should no longer have parental rights. Additionally, you may also have to obtain consent from your stepchild, if he/she is at least 12 years old.

The following are common reasons for terminating parental rights in California: 

  • The other biological parent has not provided child support, visited the child (as ordered by the court), or otherwise exercised his/her parental rights.

  • The other biological parent has abandoned the child for at least more than a year or left the child with another person for at least six months – without any communication with the child.

  • The other biological parent is unfit to have parental rights. Common examples include a history of domestic violence, criminal activity, as well as alcohol and/or drug abuse.

Before the final court hearing, a stepparent investigation will be conducted by a court investigator, social worker, or licensed family therapist. The investigator will interview you, your spouse or domestic partner, and your stepchild to determine if stepparent adoption is in the child’s best interests.

If you are interested in stepparent adoption or any other type of adoption in Sacramento, Roseville, or Aliso Viejo, contact Cianci Law, PC today at (916) 797-1575 to learn how we can help you. 

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