Blending the Family: A Guide to the Stepparent Adoption Process

Serving Clients Throughout Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Napa Counties

Adoption is a beautiful way to grow your family, and stepparent adoption is a special and unique way to really show your love. Unfortunately, adoption can also be a very complex legal process that needs to be handled properly in order to avoid delays and other issues. This blog outlines what needs to happen in order to successfully complete a stepparent adoption.

What is Required

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you qualify to legally adopt a stepchild. There are two primary requirements. First, you must be legally married to the legal parent of the child. The second requirement is that you must be physically capable of caring for the child. In most cases, neither of these two requirements are difficult to meet.

Relinquishment of the Child

The next thing you’ll want to look into is if the child’s other biological parent still has parental rights. If they do, you will be unable to move forward with the legal adoption until they relinquish those rights. Even if the other parent hasn’t seen the child in years, they must still go through this process. Once they do relinquish the rights, they will be released of all legal and financial responsibilities. This means that if they had been paying child support (or were at least supposed to be), they won’t have to any longer.

If the other parent can’t be found or refuses to allow you to adopt their child despite not being a part of their lives, there are steps that you can take to move forward with the adoption anyway. When this is the case, however, it becomes significantly more complicated. In the end, the courts will have to step in to terminate the rights of the other parent before you can move forward with the adoption.

Petitioning for Adoption

Once those steps are taken care of, you will have to file a Petition for Adoption with the state of California. Your spouse will have to file this with you in order to show that they support this adoption. The petition will typically require you to fill out information about when and where the child was born, how long you have been a part of the child’s life, and why you wish to adopt. If the child will be changing their last name with the adoption, that information can be included as well.

Adoption of the Child

Once the Petition for Adoption has been submitted, the courts will review the case. If approved, they will issue a new birth certificate listing you as the legal parent along with the child’s new name (if applicable). If you would like to learn more about the stepparent adoption process, or you are ready to begin, please contact Carroll Law Office to get the help you need.

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