Stepparents play an important part in their children’s lives. You provide financial and emotional support and likely share many experiences together, which strengthened your bond as a family over time. For some, the bond does not end there. In some cases, a stepparent might wish to pursue adoption to legalize the relationship between the stepparent and his/her stepchild and, although the process is not nearly as complex as other types of adoption, it still requires skilled legal assistance. Continue reading to learn more about the stepparent adoption process.
Can I Adopt My Stepchild?
If you plan on adopting your stepchild, you must first get your spouses’ consent and then petition the court to terminate the parental rights of the other a parent. Generally, this is the biggest obstacle in the stepchild adoption process as parental rights can only be terminated in certain circumstances. The easiest way to terminate parental rights is to get the formal consent of the parent whose place you will be taking. Typically a parent is more willing to give consent if he/she does not have much of a relationship with the child and would like to be relieved of child support duties.
What if the Other Parent Refuses Consent?
Obtaining consent for a stepchild adoption is not always easy. If the other parent refuses to consent, you might be able to terminate the parental rights by proving he or she is an unfit parent or abandoned the child.
Below are some of the reasons why a judge might terminate the other biological parent’s rights:
- Abandonment: If the other biological parent failed to provide financial support or has not communicated with the child for a year, it is likely a judge will terminate parental rights due to abandonment.
- Unfitness: A judge might deem a parent unfit for a variety of reasons. If he or she was abusive, failed to visit or support the child for more than 12 months, has a habitual use of controlled substances or alcohol, was neglectful, is developmentally disabled or mentally ill or has a pattern of felony behavior, parental rights might be terminated.
It is possible for a parent to consent to the termination of his/her parental rights or have his/her parental rights terminated over his/her objection and still have visitation time with the child. In that instance, he/she would have no parental rights or obligations but may be able to and welcome to maintain a relationship with the child.
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights
California will not allow a parent to give up his/her parental rights unless there is another person who will step into the role of parent, such as a stepparent. Whether you can obtain consent or must attempt to have the other parent’s rights terminated, you will need an experienced family law attorney to assist you throughout the process and ensure its success. The last thing you want is an unnecessary delay as you try to bring your family closer together.
Schedule a Case Review with Our Stepchild Adoption Team!
If you wish to adopt your stepchild, you need an experienced family law attorney on your side to assist you with this complex process. At Bez Law Firm, P.C., our family law attorneys are committed to guiding clients through some of the most sensitive family law matters, including stepchild adoptions. We are also proud to provide legal guidance to LGBT couples hoping to bring their family closer together. With our team on your side, you can rest assured your case is in good hands.