Stepparent Adoption Means Terminating Another Parent’s Legal Rights

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmIn situations where a stepparent acts as one of the child’s primary caregivers and the other biological parent is not involved in the child’s life, stepparent adoption may be in the best interests of the child. Adoption terminates one biological parent’s legal rights and allows the stepparent to take over those rights and responsibilities.

When to Consider Stepparent Adoption

Some scenarios where stepparent adoption may be the best choice include cases where the other biological parent has died; cases where the other parent is uninvolved in the child’s life, due to imprisonment or abandonment; and cases where the other parent voluntarily relinquishes his or her rights. It is not appropriate in situations where the other parent still plays a role in the child’s life.

Stepparent adoption is ideal in cases where the stepparent already plays a parental role in the child’s life, and the adoption serves as a formalization of that bond.  In such cases, the legal benefits of stepparent adoption can be significant. For example, the adoptive parent gains the right to make legal decisions on behalf of the child as the biological parent would. Adoption also ensures that the stepchild is eligible for Social Security and life insurance benefits if the stepparent dies.

It is important to understand that the stepparent adoption is a permanent process that cannot be revoked later on. If the stepparent and biological parent divorce later, the adoption remains valid and the stepparent will retain their legal rights and responsibilities to the child.

Terminating the Other Parent’s Legal Rights

Stepparent adoption cannot occur without terminating the legal rights of the other biological parent. Filing a petition for freedom from parental custody is the first step in the process. If the other parent is still living but absent, every effort must be made to contact them so that they have the opportunity to contest the proposed adoption.

In some cases, the family may draft a post-adoption contract that allows the biological parent to continue to see the child on a limited basis after the adoption.

The Adoption Process

If the child is over the age of 12, the child’s preferences and consent are important to the process. In such cases, the child will must sign a consent form to allow the adoption to proceed.

Other aspects of the adoption process are designed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child. For example, the family will work with Social Services and home visits may be required. The family may also need to appear in court in some cases.

If your family is interested in stepparent adoption, the first step is to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney who has experience in stepparent adoptions.

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.

What To Understand About Same-Sex Couples and Adoptions in California

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County stepparent adoption attorney; The Maggio Law Firm

Same sex couples face unique legal challenges when they decide to become a family with children. While California allows same-sex couples to adopt, the process can be long and difficult.

The adoption process is often difficult even for heterosexual couples, and same-sex couples face even greater challenges when it comes to adoption. In California, GLBT adoption and second parent adoption are legal and can present significant legal and social challenges for same-sex couples.

Gay and lesbian couples often decide to bring a child into their lives through conception and birth. For a lesbian couple, this involves finding a male donor or visiting a sperm bank and then having one member of the couple become pregnant. In such a partnership, the other parent can then become a legal second parent through stepparent or second parent adoption. Gay men can also become legal parents of a child through the use of a surrogate mother.

Having a child through conception and birth can be a long and difficult process, so some prospective gay parents choose to go through the state system. For these prospective parents, success in adopting from the public child welfare system greatly depends on two things: the state adoption law and the attitude of the adoption agency being utilized. In California, state law protects prospective gay and lesbian parents from discrimination during the adoption process. It is illegal for public agencies in California to reject adoptive parents on the basis of their sexual orientation.

While the law provides some protection for prospective gay and lesbian parents, it does not guarantee that prejudices don’t exist within the agencies. Social workers who are not comfortable with homosexuality may determine that the prospective adoptive parents are unsuitable for a number of other reasons. Private agencies, on the other hand, establish their own set of criteria for prospective adoptive parents. These agencies may consider age, fertility status, marital status, religion and sexual orientation when making adoption decisions. Same-sex couples, then, may not have as much success in finding a private agency that is open to adoption by homosexual parents.

Raising a child can be one of the biggest decisions in your life, so it is important to know all of the legal ramifications of such a decision before engaging in the legal process of adoption. If you are a same-sex couple considering adoption, you should contact an experienced family law attorney who can help you through this difficult and complex process.

Gerald A. Maggio is an Orange County divorce attorney, in Irvine, California.   For more information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting www.maggiolawfirm.com.

What is the Process for Stepparent Adoptions in Orange County?

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law Firm

In stepparent adoption, one biological or legal parent retains custody control of the children, with the stepmother or stepfather of the child seeking to adopt the child.

Stepparent adoption cases are filed in Probate court, not Family Law court. An investigation case file is opened after the initial paperwork has been filed with the court and a Court investigator will be assigned to file a report with the Court withing 90 days following the interview and a visit to the adopting stepparent’s residence.

Children that are at least 4 years of age should be advised by the parent and stepparent that the stepparent is requesting the the Court grant his or her request to adopt the child. The investigator will interview the child regarding his or her understanding of the adoption and what he or she wants. California state law requires that children 12 years and older must give written consent of the adoption.

Upon completion of the investigation and filing of the investigation report with the Court, the next step is to request and obtain a hearing date with the Court. The court will require written proof of the consent of the other parent married to the stepparent, roof of consent (or death) of the other biological parent, and proof of service on the other biological parent before setting a hearing date.

At the adoption hearing, the child to be adopted must be present in Court at the time of the hearing, The hearing is basically a formality for the Court to grant the stepparent adoption that has essentially been pre-approved by the time of the hearing.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio of The Maggio Law Firm, by visiting www.maggiolawfirm.com or calling (949) 553-0304.

 
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