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California Stepparent Adoption: Who Qualifies as a Stepparent?

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A stepparent adoption occurs when the spouse of a child’s custodial parent adopts the child. If you are a stepparent in California and you are interested in adopting your stepchild, you should consider the basic requirements that must be met according to California state law and then consult an experienced family law attorney.

Who Qualifies as a Stepparent for Stepparent Adoption in California?

To qualify the custodial parent and stepparent must be married at least one year before the adoption. It is relatively common for a stepparent and stepchild to develop a strong bond. In some instances, the relationship with the stepparent may grow stronger than the relationship the child has with their noncustodial parent. In this case, many consider stepparent adoption. When parents decide on stepparent adoption, the stepparent (custodial/biological parent’s spouse) becomes the child’s parent. The noncustodial biological parent loses all rights and ongoing responsibilities for the child. These rights and obligations transfer to the stepparent.

Do You Know the Basic Requirements for a Stepparent Adoption?

Marriage or Domestic Partnership: The custodial/biological parent and the stepparent hoping to adopt must be legally married or in a domestic partnership. If this is not the case, the custodial parent and stepparent would need to pursue adoption through a different, more complicated process, “second-parent adoption.”

Age of Adopting Parent: The stepparent wishing to adopt must be 18 years old or older and at least ten years older than the child they want to adopt. In some circumstances, the court may waive the latter limitation.

Consent of Custodial Parent/Spouse: The biological parent and spouse of the adopting stepparent must consent to the adoption.

Consent of Other Biological Parent: The child’s other biological parent must also consent to the adoption. In some cases, the stepparent adoption may continue without the other parent’s consent, but since it will not be an “Uncontested Adoption,” the procedure will change. Depending on the circumstances, the process may include Willful Failure, Abandonment, Termination of Alleged Parental Rights, etc.

Child’s Consent: If the child is 12 years old or older, the child’s consent is required for the stepparent adoption to proceed.

When seeking a stepparent adoption in California, there are several required legal documents, submission of official records, an investigation, and a court hearing. California stepparents interested in adopting their stepchild should work with an experienced family law attorney. Get in touch with The Maggio Law Firm today.



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