6 Steps to Take for Stepparent Adoption in California
Published October 11, 2022
Adoption is a stressful and incredibly long process, as it can take months or even a year. But for better or for worse, stepparent adoption isn’t the same as regular adoption. For one, there are specific steps that you can shorten in a stepparent adoption, like the home study, for example. However, there are also steps that take longer than it usually does, such as when you must get the consent of the noncustodial parent.
If you’re unaware of the step-by-step process, there’s a good chance it’ll take longer than it would have otherwise. With that in mind, below are the six steps to take for stepparent adoption in California.
Step #1: Check The Relevant State Laws In California
Before anything else, you need to check and review the relevant State laws concerning adoption, or stepparent adoption, to be more precise. Keep in mind this isn’t necessarily part of the actual process.
This step is mainly so you’re prepared for whatever may come your way during the entire procedure.
Moreover, there have been cases where a stepparent has gone above and beyond for the procedure, only to find out it was unnecessary. If you’re aware of the State laws in California, this won’t happen to you.
With this step, frequently-asked questions like “Can a step parent adopt a child?” or “How much does it cost to adopt a stepchild?” whose answers typically vary from state to state should be answered.
It’d also help, and perhaps it’d be even better if you simply hired a lawyer. That way, you don’t have to learn the relevant State laws in California yourself. It ultimately depends on your judgment, but beware that if you choose to do it yourself, the adoption process may take longer than it usually would.
Step #2: Contact The Superior Court In Your County
Once you’ve determined you know enough about the State laws concerning stepparent adoption in California, proceed by contacting a Superior court in the state. If you’re not aware, there are different kinds of courts in every state in the US. These include district, family, and juvenile courts.
In California, the superior court handles the adoption cases. Therefore, you must contact them, or the court clerk, to be precise, and not just any employee. You can either go there personally and call them.
Make sure you call or go to the superior court located in the county where you reside. It’s not necessary, but it’s where you’ll file your forms and where you and all involved parties will conduct the hearing.
Step #3: Seek The Consent Of All Parties
In most stepparent adoption cases, the adopting parent must seek the consent of three individuals:
- The child,
- The adopting parent’s spouse, and
- The other birth parent who presumably no longer has custody of or is in contact with the child.
You only need the child’s consent if they’re 10 to 14 years old, depending on the state. In the case of California, consent is only necessary for children 12 years and older.
Naturally, you need the consent of your spouse. The main issue that adopting parents often face in this procedure is getting the other birth parent’s consent, though in some cases, it’s not necessary.
That’s why you need to be aware of the State laws on adoptions in California, specifically the ones about consent for adoption. Here’s how things usually go when you seek consent from the other birth parent:
- The other birth parent voluntarily gave you their consent (in the form of a document).
- There’s no need for consent for various reasons, like if they haven’t been in contact with the child.
- You’re adopting a stepchild with an absent father, and you can’t find the father after trying to.
- The other birth parent didn’t consent to the adoption, and they have every right to prevent the procedure. However, the court has ended their parental rights prior to the adoption request.
- The other birth parent didn’t consent to the adoption, and you intend to ask the court to end their parental rights. In this case, you may have to rely on what the judge thinks is best for the child. In
You need at least the child’s consent and your spouse’s consent to proceed to the next step.
Step #4: Fill Out The Court Forms
When you contact the clerk, they may provide you with an information packet concerning the step-by-step process for adoption in that specific state, which in this case, is California. They may also mail or send you a link to the forms you must fill out. If they didn’t do so, you could download them yourself.
There are three forms you must fill out. Here’s a look at the purpose of each form:
- The Adoption Request tells the judge what they need to know about you, the child you’re adopting, and your relationship with the child.
- The Adoption Agreement tells the judge that both the child you’re adopting and your spouse, presumably the child’s current legal and custodial parent, agree to the adoption.
- The Adoption Order is signed by the judge once the stepparent adoption is approved.
This is where you’ll fill in the information about the consent from the child, your spouse, and the other birth parent, hence why step 3 is essential. You must fill these out before you proceed to the next step.
There are cases where you must fill out an additional form. To be precise, you must fill out the Declaration Confirming Parentage in Stepparent Adoption form if: you’ve been married to or in a relationship with the child’s birth parent before their birth. Though you’ll have to fill out an additional form, you can skip several steps in this case, specifically steps five and beyond, thereby speeding up the process.
Step #4: Submit The Forms To The Court Clerk
After filling out the forms, you must submit them to the clerk working at the superior court in the county you reside in, where the child was born, and where the birth parent lives, among other options. It’s up to you where you want to file the forms, as long as it ticks one of the conditions for the adoption venue.
You should make a copy of the forms in case you need them later. We suggest letting the other birth parent see the forms, even if they already gave their consent for adoption, just for common courtesy.
Step #5: Have An Interview With A Social Worker
Upon confirming that your request is valid, the court will send a social worker to your residence. They would then conduct an interview or investigation to find out more about your lifestyle, home, and more.
It’s mainly so they can determine whether you’re fit to adopt the child.
Step #6: Go To The Hearing
Once the interview is over, the social worker will write a report and send it to the judge. There may not be a hearing depending on the results of their investigation. If the information they provide to the judge is any indication that the adoption is in the best interest of the child, the hearing may be waived.
However, if there’s a hearing, you must ask the county clerk for its exact date. When the day comes, make sure you bring the child you’re adopting as well as the Adoption Agreement and Adoption Order forms.
Summing It Up
If you feel like the procedure is taking too long, just remember that it’s inherently long. It usually doesn’t have anything to do with whether you’ll succeed with the adoption, but more so because the court is busy.
It may also have to do with other factors, such as the other birth parent not consenting. But just like how there are variables that can prolong the procedure, there are also those that can speed it up. And it just so happens that understanding how stepparent adoption California works is one such variable.
(Related: How To Establish Paternity When The Father Is Deceased)
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About The Author
Lenard Arceo is an experienced blogger and writer who enjoys learning to code in his spare time. His commitment to delivering factual content is what has helped him create hundred of helpful articles that have reached millions of people.