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How to Adopt Your Stepchild in California


Stepparents often build formative relationships with their stepchildren. In many cases, this results in a stepparent wanting to officially adopt their child so they can gain legal parental rights for them. Understanding the benefits of becoming a child's legal parent, and the process for doing so in California, could help you ensure you get your new parentage off to the best start.

To schedule a consultation with our team for your stepparent adoption case, contact us online or via phone at (559) 900-1263.

Understanding Adoption & the Termination of Parental Rights

For a stepparent to adopt a child and acquire parental rights, the child's other parent (the one not married to the stepparent) must have their parental rights terminated.

In some situations, if a child's parent is exceptionally uninvolved in their life, they may voluntarily consent to the termination of their parental rights. However, in many cases, a biological parent will reject a stepparent's attempts to gain parental rights.

The Process of Adopting a Stepchild in CA

In California, a stepparent who wishes to adopt must file an adoption request with their county court.

At this stage, depending on the country and the court, a social services agency or other similar agency may wish to investigate the adoption request. These investigations occur to ensure the stepparent is of good character and there is no coercion or fraud involved in the adoption.

In the vast majority of cases, legitimate stepparents wishing to adopt a child have nothing to fear from court or social services evaluations.

Once an adoption case moves forward, the court will need to determine whether terminating the other parent's parental rights is necessary.

Courts can terminate a parent's rights for several reasons:

  • Child abuse, neglect, or abandonment;
  • A substance abuse issue severe enough to cause disability;
  • A felony conviction;
  • A developmental disability or mental illness;
  • A mental disability;
  • Moral depravity. What constitutes moral depravity may be determined by the court.

In most stepparent adoption cases, the court will hear from both the stepparent and each of the child's biological parents regarding why the adoption should or should not take place.

In the majority of adoption cases, the court will also interview the child, typically alone, to ensure they also want the adoption to go through.

If the court rules in the stepparent's favor, it will terminate the parental rights of the child's biological parent and award the stepparent with parental rights of their own, finalizing the adoption process.

Our attorneys are here to help you pursue your stepparent adoption case. To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (559) 900-1263.

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