Have you developed a strong bond with your stepchild and would like to become a legal parent of your stepchild? The stepparent adoption process can be very complex, especially if the biological parent of your stepchild contests the adoption. Due to the complexity of California stepparent adoption process, it is important that you speak with a California stepparent adoption attorney at Wallin & Klarich who can evaluate your case and guide you through every step of the process.
How Does the California Stepparent Adoption Process Begin?
Under California Family Code Section 9000, a stepparent desiring to adopt a stepchild of the stepparent’s spouse or domestic partner may file a petition with the family law courts to establish themselves as a legal parent of their stepchild. Once you file your petition with the family law court, the court will assign a date for you to appear in court to evaluate all of the aspects of your stepparent adoption case.
There are different forms and procedures for the various types of adoption. It can be very difficult to determine which forms you need and how to complete them. You should not attempt to go through the California stepparent adoption process without the guidance of a Wallin & Klarich stepparent adoption attorney.
Terminating the Parental Rights of the Other Biological Parent
After you have filed your petition, there are several steps you must take before completing the stepparent adoption process. First, you must request the other biological parent of your stepchild terminate their parental rights. In order to adopt your stepchild, the other biological parent must give consent to the adoption or you will have to petition the court to terminate their parental rights. If the other biological parent of your stepchild will not consent, your Wallin & Klarich attorney can help you argue that there is sufficient justification for the court to terminate the parental rights of the other biological parent.
In order to terminate the parental rights of the other biological parent, you must give the court a sufficient justification as to why the other parent should not continue to have parental rights. Justifications for terminating parental rights include:
- The other biological parent has not exercised their parental rights and obligations for a significant period of time, such as exercising visitation rights or paying support;
- The other biological parent is unfit to be the legal parent of your child. The court will determine if a parent is unfit generally by evaluating whether it is in the best interest of the child for you to be the legal parent over the other biological parent;
- Under California Family Code Section 7822, the other biological parent has abandoned your stepchild. For purposes of stepparent adoption, the other biological parent will have abandoned your stepchild when:
- They have left your stepchild with your spouse or domestic partner for over a year, without any communication with their child; OR
- They have left your stepchild with another person for over a six month period, without any communication with their child.
Terminating the parental rights of the other biological parent of your stepchild is a very difficult process. Without the help of an experienced California stepparent adoption attorney, your petition to terminate parental rights could be denied, which can significantly hurt your chances of obtaining a stepparent adoption.
Consent of Your Stepchild
After the parental rights of the other biological parent have been terminated, you may need to obtain consent from your child. If your stepchild is 12 years old or older, your stepchild must consent to the adoption. Without their consent, you will not be able to proceed in the California stepparent adoption process.
The Social Services Investigation
The final step in the process is a Social Services investigation. In this stage of the process, you, your spouse and the child will be interviewed to evaluate whether the adoption is in the best interest of your stepchild. After the interview, the investigator will submit a report to the court indicating whether they believe the stepparent adoption should be approved.
The investigation stage of the process is crucial to your success. A skilled stepparent adoption attorney will be able to help you prepare for the investigation so that you obtain the best possible report for your court hearing.
California Stepparent Adoption Attorney
There are many complicated issues when making a request to adopt your stepchild. If you would like to adopt your stepchild, it is essential that you hire an experienced California stepparent adoption attorney to guide you through every step of the process. The skilled stepparent adoption attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience in successfully obtaining stepparent adoptions for our clients.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Victorville, West Covina, Sherman Oaks, Torrance and Ventura, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney available wherever you happen to live. Call us today at (888) 749-7428. We will be there when you call.
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