Stepparent Adoptions Increasing with Thousands of Stepfamilies Forming Every Day

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law Firm

 Stepfamilies are a huge part of American society, yet the mainstream media rarely mentions the unique needs of both parents and children when they are assimilating into one family. The U.S. Census Bureau reports 1300 new stepfamilies are forming every day and more than 50 percent of families are remarried or recoupled with kids less than 13 years old.

Unlike normal adoption, stepparent adoption is for individuals who want to solidify their commitment as a stepfather or stepmother and adopt their stepchild. An experienced stepparent adoption attorney is critical to draft legal documents, review them, and counsel on a stepparent’s rights as well as legalities of which the biological parent must be aware. Expert legal counsel will ensure that a stepparent adoption will not have a chance to be reversed.

A stepparent adoption does end the absent biological parent’s legal ties to the child, including custodial and visitation rights and financial support. There are four main ways to do a stepparent adoption with an accomplished California family law attorney.

The non-primary biological parent can sign a state authorized form consenting to the adoption by the stepparent. The Department of Social Services will investigate to determine if it is in the child’s best interests and create a report with their findings. Children should be informed that the stepparent wants to adopt them as the social service investigator will interview the child about what he or she wants and what they understand about the adoption. Also, children older than 12 years must give written consent of the adoption. An adoption hearing will then be held and if everything is successful, the stepparent will have the adoption certificate.

In contrast, if the biological parent has not spoken or financially provided for the child in more than a year, then the custodial parent will have full custody of the child. The stepparent must prove these facts and give testimony, but no investigation is mandated. Only if the absent parent can give a sufficient reason for not communicating or supporting the child will the court not give its consent. Otherwise, it takes only one court hearing to get the certificate.

Yet in some cases the absent parent has only failed to communicate or give financial support, but not both shortcomings. This makes the stepparent adoption process a bit more complex, and the Probation Department will have to research and report if abandonment has occurred. California courts will hear the testimony of the party who wants to adopt and incorporate the probation report. One legal petition is required to terminate the absent parent’s rights and a second petition completed to adopt the child. Two separate court orders must be done and the absent parent’s relatives must be notified of the proceedings. If the child has been deemed abandoned, the court will then allow the adoption decree.

The last way to get a stepparent adoption is if the parents of the child were never married, and thus there is no natural father. A court order to terminate the alleged natural father’s rights is far easier than the aforementioned routes. The couple can then go about the stepparent adoption in the normal way.

After an adoption, the child is then eligible for Social Security and life insurance benefits should either of their parents pass away. Some couples get legal assistance to change the child’s last name and modify the birth certificate, too.

The Maggio Law Firm has guided many stepparents and the couples in solidifying their bond with the children. As an experienced Orange County stepparent adoption attorney, Gerald Maggio is well versed in all the steps of the stepparent adoption process.  For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Orange County divorce lawyer, Gerald A. Maggio, by visiting Maggiolawfirm.com or calling (949) 553-0304.

High Levels of Domestic Violence and Divorce in California Prompt Legal Action

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law Firm

Sadly, one in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime. Each year, 1.3 million women will be victims of physical assault, according to the Alternatives to Domestic Violence organization in Riverside, Calif. California’s domestic violence shelters had more hotline calls in 2010, with an average of 5,261 individuals needing their services and support.

The recession has caused financial and marriage stressors to increase, and victims sometimes feel they have no escape route to improve their life. A recent Orange County domestic violence case emphasizes the need for legal counsel when dealing with divorce, child custody and restraining order concerns. Travis C. Unholz, an Orange County sheriff’s deputy, recently pushed his wife to the floor and she hit her head. The couple’s two children were at home during the argument. The wife called the sheriff’s department and they arrested Unholz. He was able to post bail, was charged with domestic violence, but then tried to buy a gun. He asked a friend to help him buy an automatic weapon, survival kit, and call his wife. All these actions violated the bail conditions.

Unholz now is charged with a litany of felony and misdemeanor charges – domestic battery, violation of a protective order and attempted possession of a firearm, sentencing enhancement for crime-bail-crime – and could face six or more years in state prison.

Every victim of domestic violence has the right to seek legal guidance and court protections to overcome a traumatic situation. If there are children involved, a restraining order can be requested to protect you and the children. Custody, visitation and child support orders can be requested at the same time, as well.

If you have been a victim of domestic violence, you have a right to look to the court for protection. There are several different types of restraining orders that can provide domestic violence victims with this kind of protection. If a judge wants a mediation to decide on these matters, an individual will want to bring their divorce lawyer and a support person. Sometimes it is even best to meet with the mediator separately, depending on what type of abuse has occurred.

Current California statutes call for custody to be granted in line with the best interests of the child. Domestic violence that has been done in the previous five years does not bode well for the perpetrating parent seeking any type of custody. Only if the perpetrator can provide sufficient evidence that he has completed a batterer’s treatment program, an alcohol or drug abuse counseling program, parenting classes, and complied with a restraining order, will the courts perhaps consider joint custody.

One of the most prominent divorce and family law offices, The Maggio Law Firm in Riverside and Irvine, Calif., is skilled in representing a client’s and child’s best interests. Their firm will ensure that all of the proper documents are filed, any questions that a judge might ask will be done so in a quick, proactive manner, and will assist with any unusual circumstances that might come up in the divorce and child custody hearings.

Gerald Maggio, their lead Riverside County domestic violence attorney, recommends individuals get help early on who are being abused. He represents domestic violence victims that are married, have domestic partnerships, in dating relationships, and same-sex partnerships. Their exceptional legal counsel will aggressively advocate for an individual and child’s legal and human rights.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Orange Country divorce lawyer, Gerald A. Maggio, by visiting Maggiolawfirm.com or calling (949) 553-0304.

 
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