October 23, 2013 By Paul Wallin

A client recently came to us who wanted to know how to adopt a stepchild. He and the biological children’s mother had been married for over two years and he had developed a strong relationship with her children. The biological father of the children was incarcerated at the time the Petition for Adoption was filed for being convicted of violent felonies out of state. The client turned to us to terminate the biological father’s parental rights and assist him in adopting his stepchildren.

Termination of Parental Rights based on Child Abandonment (California Family Code Section 7822)

how to adopt a stepchild
The skilled family law attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can help you if you want to know how to adopt a stepchild. Call us today so we can begin working on your case.

In order to terminate parental rights of a biological parent, you must show that the biological parent has abandoned his or her child. In a stepparent adoption case, this can be shown in two ways:

  • By showing that the biological parent whose rights you are trying to terminate has left their child without provision for the child’s identification, such as without a birth certificate; or
  • By showing that the same parent has left the child in the care and custody of the other biological parent for a period of one year (or more) without any provision for the child’s support or without communication from the parent, with the intent to abandon the child.

When we filed the initial Petition for Adoption and Petition to Terminate Parental Rights, the biological father was incarcerated and was serving a 20-year prison sentence. At the hearing to terminate his parental rights, we discovered that he was being released on parole in a couple of months and that this stepparent adoption would be contested. Because the issue was now contested, we had to go to trial on the issue of termination of parental rights.

Trial on Termination of Parental Rights

At the trial to terminate the biological father’s parental rights, we had to provide evidence to support our claims that the biological father had not had any communication or provided any support for the children for over five years.

In order to show that the biological father had not provided any financial support while he was in custody, we produced bank records of the biological mother, and we called the biological mother to the stand to testify that she had never received a support payment. We also called the biological father to testify as to whether he had ever provided support. The biological father could produce no evidence that he had financially supported the children.

Although we had already met the burden of proof to terminate parental rights, we went a step further and provided evidence to the court that the biological father had not contacted the children for a period of more than one year. We produced phone records of our client and the biological mother, as well as subpoenaed phone records of the prison where he was incarcerated to show that he never made an attempt to contact the children.

We were able to provide enough evidence to the court that the biological father had abandoned his children under California Family Code Section 7822 and that his parental rights should be terminated. The parental rights of the biological father were terminated and our client was able to proceed with the adoption of his stepchildren.

Wallin & Klarich Knows How to Adopt a Stepchild

Whether you are requesting or objecting to a request for a stepparent adoption, you should rely on the experience of an experienced San Bernardino stepparent adoption attorney at Wallin & Klarich. Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in handling stepparent adoption cases. We possess the knowledge of the law and attention to detail necessary to help you to obtain the most favorable result possible in your case.

With offices located in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, West Covina, Victorville, and Ventura, we are always available wherever you happen to live.

Call us today at (888) 749-7428. We will be there when you call.

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