Adoption For Stepparents And Second Parents
Stepparent adoptions establish a legal parent-child relationship when the adopting parent is not the birth parent. When the adoption is finalized, the stepparent has all the same permanent legal and financial rights and responsibilities as the birth parent. A stepparent adoption releases the noncustodial parent of his or her responsibilities, including child support payments. In most cases, it is required that the custodial parent and the stepparent have been married, or registered as domestic partners, for a minimum of one year.
Important Information To Note
Fertility & Surrogacy Legal Group, APC, is here to help you through this process, which involves filling out court forms and then attending a hearing with a judge. The child being adopted, his or her biological parent, and the adopting stepparent are required to be present. Because one of the child’s birth parents continues to retain custody, this type of adoption is simpler than others. Most states have streamlined the process so that the hearing judge has the option to dismiss the home study usually required for adoption.
A stepparent adoption typically requires the consent of the noncustodial parent, who will be relieved of all parental responsibilities in the process. If the noncustodial parent objects or refuses consent, the adoption may be halted. Some states have made provisional exceptions to this rule, if the noncustodial parent has lapsed in communication or contact with the child for a certain length of time.
What Are The Steps To A Second-Parent Adoption?
A second-parent adoption – whether involving a stepparent, relative, or friend – involves multiple steps that vary by state. In California, the main steps in the adoption process include:
- Obtaining the other parent’s consent for termination of their parental rights, if needed, or pursuing involuntary termination of parental rights
- Filing an adoption petition in the appropriate court
- Completing an investigation with a social worker, which may involve a home study
- Attending the adoption hearing, where the adoption will be finalized
Each child can only have two legal parents, adoptive or biological. Uncontested adoptions are far simpler than those where you have to seek court termination of the other parent’s rights. In the latter, you will have to go through additional court proceedings to establish grounds for terminating their parental rights.
The Advantages Of A Second-Parent Adoption
Adoption offers many benefits, including:
- Inheritance rights
- Legal authority to act on behalf of the child
- Child custody rights
- Beneficiary rights with regard to benefits like Social Security
- Immigration rights
Additionally, adoption serves to formalize a parent-child relationship that may have already existed for a long time. It’s the final piece of “glue” that can bond the relationship in a legal manner.
Act Now By Calling Today
Our firm supports families in the process of obtaining a stepparent adoption. We fill out the paperwork and facilitate all court proceedings on our client’s behalf. Contact our adoption attorneys today in our San Diego office at 619-329-4411 for more information or to schedule a free consultation.