How to adopt a stepchild in california

What is Stepparent Adoption?

A Stepparent Adoption is when the spouse of a child’s custodial parent adopts that child. It is the policy of the Social Services Agency that the parent and stepparent be married for at least one year prior to the adoption.”

The stepparent and custodial parent will fill out court forms. There will be a hearing in Court. The child to be adopted, the natural parent who the child will live with, and the adopting stepparent must go to the hearing.

This page explains the steps you have to take for a stepparent adoption.

Fill out an Information Sheet and Questionnaire. You can get this form from the Probate Clerk’s Office at the Downtown Superior Court, or call Social Services at:
(408) 501-6487

  • Adoption Request (Adopt-200 )
  • Adoption Agreement (Adopt-210 )
  • Order of Adoption (Adopt-215 )

You can download the forms you need from the forms page of the Judicial Council website .

Tip: Use the dropdown box on the state forms page to choose “Adoption.” Then, click the “See forms” button.

Or, buy them from a bookstore or stationery store. (Check the Yellow Pages under Legal Documents.)

Get consent from the biological parent who is giving up custody of the child. You can get the consent forms from the Stepparent Adoption Investigator at Social Services:
(408) 501-6487

If the other parent doesn’t want to sign a consent form, file a Petition to end their parental rights.

If that parent is the mother or a Presumed Father, file an Abandonment Petition Freeing the Child From Parental Custody and Control.

If the other parent is an Alleged Father, file a Termination Petition Terminating the Parental Rights of Alleged Father.

To learn how to fill out these forms, read How to Adopt your Stepchild in California. You can find these forms at bookstores, stationery stores and printers.

Mail your completed Information Sheet and Questionnaire and a check for $200 to:

Separate Administrative Functions
Social Services Agency
373 West Julian St.
Building 2, Floor 1
San Jose, CA 95110

If the other parent did not give up his/her rights or if the Court has not ended his/her rights, you must file a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights first before you schedule your adoption hearing.

The stepparent, the custodial parent and the child must go to the Adoption Hearing. Get to Court 20 minutes early and let the clerk know you are there.

  • Order of Adoption (Adopt-215 )
  • Adoption Agreement (Adopt-210 )

If the other parent did not sign a Consent form, talk to a lawyer for help with this process.

What do I do after the hearing?

Go to the Probate Department at the Downtown Superior Court to file your papers. You can get certified copies of the Order of Adoption for free. Just ask the clerk.

The process for adopting your stepchild in California is fairly straightforward. To qualify, you must be legally married to the custodial parent of the child whom you wish to adopt. A same-sex partner in a domestic relationship with the custodial parent of a child also qualifies to adopt the child as a stepparent. You, your spouse and the child in question (if he is 12 years of age or older) must all consent before you can initiate the proceedings, and you do not need an attorney to finalize the stepparent adoption.

Discuss your intent to adopt your stepchild with the child in question. Even if your stepchild is young, and especially if your stepchild is over 10 years old, you should talk to her to see how she feels about the process. While you and your spouse may be excited about the idea, your stepchild may feel confused, angry or even abandoned by her other biological parent. Talk to your stepchild privately to explain the process and see how she responds. Then, hold a family meeting and allow everyone to ask questions or express their feelings about the potential adoption.rnrnNote that California also requires you to obtain consent from your stepchild prior to the adoption if she is at least 12 years of age, so you stepchild will need to formally agree to the process if she meets the age requirement.

Obtain Form ADOPT-200, ADOPT-210 and ADOPT-215 from the clerk of the family court in your county. You can also download and print the forms directly from the California judicial website.

Complete all three forms by filling in your personal information, your spouseâ??s information and your stepchildâ??s information. You will need your stepchildâ??s full name, date of birth and Social Security number to complete the forms. Mark the adoption as a â??stepparent adoptionâ? in the appropriate sections. You and your spouse must sign the bottom of all three forms when you are finished. Make a copy of the signed forms and retain the copies for your personal records.

File the original signed forms with the clerk of the family court in the county where you currently reside. There will be a nominal fee–typically, between $50 and $250–that you must pay at the time of filing before the clerk will accept your forms for filing. The clerk will then schedule an adoption hearing and a date for a social worker to conduct an interview in your home.

Complete the in-home interview with the social worker. Your stepchild must be present for the interview. The social worker will conduct a walk-through of your home and interview you, your spouse and your stepchild separately. Once she completes the interview, she will submit her report to the judge for review during the hearing. You will likely not receive a copy of the report until the hearing takes place.

Attend the adoption hearing with your spouse and your stepchild. Bring your copies of the completed forms with you. The court may interview your stepchild privately to determine his wishes. If the hearing goes well, the judge will sign your Form ADOPT-215 (Adoption Order) and the adoption will become final, effective immediately.

Step-Parent Adoption is an exciting but delicate legal issue. It is not uncommon for step-parents to want to legally adopt their spouse’s children and share parental rights along with them. For many families, it bonds them even closer together. However, in California, only two parents can have parental rights to a child. This means that for a step-parent adoption to happen, the other biological parent must sign away their parental rights to their own child.

If a step-parent is looking to adopt their step-child, there are a few ground requirements. You must meet all of these qualifications:

You must be the spouse or domestic partner of the child’s biological parent.
You must be a legal adult.
You must be at least ten years older than the child you’re adopting.
If the child is twelve years old or older, you must have their legal consent to be adopted.

We are going to assume that you have met all of these qualifications. Getting the consent of the child themselves is no easily dismissed matter, but if you are their step-parent, we can operate from the assumption that they love you and you take care of them. Getting approved for a step-parent adoption is actually much easier than the typical adoption process. The only other major hurdle is getting the consent of both biological parents.

Adopting your step-child means that you take on all the roles of a parent in their life, from taking care of them to being responsible for child support if you divorce your spouse. It will remove the child’s other biological parent from having parental rights, including visitation. That doesn’t mean that they will never get to see their child again, but it means that they will no longer have the legal right to.

Some biological parents are comfortable giving up their parental rights because it can get them off the hook for child support. In most cases, however, step-parent adoption happens as a result of a negligent biological parent. This could be that they are considered unfit to hold parental rights, or that they have abandoned their child. In California, going an entire year without any communication with your child is considered a baseline for abandonment. If a court determines the other biological parent is guilty of these charges, they will not have to give their consent for a step-parent adoption to happen.

We have also represented cases on the other side of the process. For some loving biological parents, having a step-parent attempt to take away their parental rights without their consent is their worst nightmare. We will always work to make sure the loving parents of a child have the rights to raise them, no matter what the situation is. The court rules in the best interest of the child, and, in plenty of cases, it remains with their biological parents.

If you are dealing with a step-parent adoption case, contact The Grey Legal Group today! It is one of our favorite areas to work in. We will work to make sure that your family is legally bonded together in love and comfort. At The Grey Legal Group, we know that the law is not always black and white, and neither is your family situation.

A client recently came to us who wanted to know how to adopt a stepchild. He and the biological children’s mother had been married for over two years and he had developed a strong relationship with her children. The biological father of the children was incarcerated at the time the Petition for Adoption was filed for being convicted of violent felonies out of state. The client turned to us to terminate the biological father’s parental rights and assist him in adopting his stepchildren.

Termination of Parental Rights based on Child Abandonment (California Family Code Section 7822)

How to adopt a stepchild in california

The skilled family law attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can help you if you want to know how to adopt a stepchild. Call us today so we can begin working on your case.

In order to terminate parental rights of a biological parent, you must show that the biological parent has abandoned his or her child. In a stepparent adoption case, this can be shown in two ways:

  • By showing that the biological parent whose rights you are trying to terminate has left their child without provision for the child’s identification, such as without a birth certificate; or
  • By showing that the same parent has left the child in the care and custody of the other biological parent for a period of one year (or more) without any provision for the child’s support or without communication from the parent, with the intent to abandon the child.

When we filed the initial Petition for Adoption and Petition to Terminate Parental Rights, the biological father was incarcerated and was serving a 20-year prison sentence. At the hearing to terminate his parental rights, we discovered that he was being released on parole in a couple of months and that this stepparent adoption would be contested. Because the issue was now contested, we had to go to trial on the issue of termination of parental rights.

Trial on Termination of Parental Rights

At the trial to terminate the biological father’s parental rights, we had to provide evidence to support our claims that the biological father had not had any communication or provided any support for the children for over five years.

In order to show that the biological father had not provided any financial support while he was in custody, we produced bank records of the biological mother, and we called the biological mother to the stand to testify that she had never received a support payment. We also called the biological father to testify as to whether he had ever provided support. The biological father could produce no evidence that he had financially supported the children.

Although we had already met the burden of proof to terminate parental rights, we went a step further and provided evidence to the court that the biological father had not contacted the children for a period of more than one year. We produced phone records of our client and the biological mother, as well as subpoenaed phone records of the prison where he was incarcerated to show that he never made an attempt to contact the children.

We were able to provide enough evidence to the court that the biological father had abandoned his children under California Family Code Section 7822 and that his parental rights should be terminated. The parental rights of the biological father were terminated and our client was able to proceed with the adoption of his stepchildren.

Wallin & Klarich Knows How to Adopt a Stepchild

Whether you are requesting or objecting to a request for a stepparent adoption, you should rely on the experience of an experienced San Bernardino stepparent adoption attorney at Wallin & Klarich . Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in handling stepparent adoption cases. We possess the knowledge of the law and attention to detail necessary to help you to obtain the most favorable result possible in your case.

With offices located in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, West Covina, Victorville, and Ventura, we are always available wherever you happen to live.

How to adopt a stepchild in california

Maybe you’re getting ready to marry someone who already has kids or maybe you’ve been married for a while and want to legally solidify your relationship with your stepkids. Have you thought about adoption? Stepchild adoption is a way to take legal responsibility for the children of your spouse.

What Is Stepchild Adoption?

Adopting a stepchild is similar to any other type of adoption – you take on the full legal rights and responsibilities of a parent. That means you’re obligated to make sure the child is taken care of and adequately supported. It also means you have a legal say in the child’s rearing, including decisions involving education, extracurricular activities, religious upbringing, medical treatment, and more. If you and your spouse end up separated or divorced, you’ll have the standard suite of parental rights and responsibilities regarding visitation, custody, and child support, exactly like a biological parent would.

Note that each child can have a maximum of 2 legal parents. In order for you to adopt your stepchild, the child’s other biological parent will have to give up custody and all parental rights.

The Stepchild Adoption Process In California

The process for adopting a stepchild varies from county to county in California. The process usually starts when you file a Stepparent Adoption Request at the local county adoption office. Your local adoption office will conduct an investigation into your case and prepare a report for the judge in charge of the adoption.

One of the most complicated aspects of a stepchild adoption is dealing with the parent who is losing their parental rights. In some cases, he or she may give voluntary consent to the adoption and the termination of his or her parental rights. It may be that he or she has no interest in the child or recognizes that an adoption is better for everyone involved. If there’s no objection, you and the biological parents will sign consent forms and the process will move forward. The whole thing may take as little as 3-6 months.

In other cases, you may not be able to locate that parent or that parent may refuse to cooperate. In that case, you’ll have to seek a judicial decree (a decision by a judge) to get through the adoption process. If you can’t find the other parent or the other parent refuses to cooperate, the judge will investigate that parent’s relationship will the child and you and the other parent will have the opportunity to present your cases.

In order to get a judicial decree terminating the other parent’s rights, you’ll need to show that the objecting parent shouldn’t have parental rights in the first place. The two most common ways to do that are to show that the other parent is unfit or has abandoned the child. Someone may be considered “unfit” in the eyes of the law if he or she has abused the child, has a drug or alcohol problem, is incarcerated, or has failed to try to see the child. The other parent is considered to have abandoned the child if he or she has failed to provide financial support or visit the child for a significant amount of time. In California, it may take as little as 3 months of failing to provide financial support and as little as 6 months of failing to attempt to visit the child to reach the point of abandonment. Finally, if the other parent is male, you may be able to show that he is not the child’s actual father. In that case, he has no parental rights.

Overall, the judge will consider the child’s best interests and the relevant laws before making a ruling. If you have to seek a judicial decree, the process takes longer than with voluntary consent – sometimes more than a year, depending on the facts of the case.

Adult Adoption

If you want to adopt a stepchild who is already over 18, you can use the adult adoption process. This is easier and faster than adopting a minor – it usually only takes 4-8 weeks and minimal cost. People usually consider adult adoption for inheritance purposes, so you’ll need to consult a family law attorney and your financial advisers about whether adult adoption is the right choice in your situation.

Ready For Stepchild Adoption?

If you and your spouse are considering stepchild adoption, it’s time to talk to a local family law attorney. We can help – our Family Law Attorney Referral Service can connect you to a lawyer near you who can explain your options and help you through the process. Adoption law is complex, especially if the other parent doesn’t want to give up his or her parental rights, and you need an experienced advocate on your side to help you make your case and adopt your child.

Once you’re called to the front, the judge will ask you a series of questions based on your request to adopt your stepchild. Depending on the child’s age, they may also question the child as well. If your stepchild is over the age of 7 or 8, talk to them before the hearing about how to answer questions from a judge%(4). The process for adopting your stepchild in California is fairly straightforward. To qualify, you must be legally married to the custodial parent of the child whom you wish to adopt. A same-sex partner in a domestic relationship with the custodial parent of a child also qualifies to adopt the child as a stepparent. COVID Resources. Reliable information about the coronavirus (COVID) is available from the World Health Organization (current situation, international travel).Numerous and frequently-updated resource results are available from this ’s WebJunction has pulled together information and resources to assist library staff as they consider how to handle . How to adopt your stepchild in California [Frank Zagone] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers/5(11).

ISBN: OCLC Number: Notes: Includes index. Description: 1 volume (various pagings): illustrations, forms ; 28 cm + 1 computer. ISBN: OCLC Number: Description: 1 volume (various pagings): illustrations ; 28 cm: Other Titles: Adopt your stepchild in California. Stepparents and domestic partners can adopt a child in California without a lawyer, and Do Your Own Adoption in California shows you how. Packed with plain-English information and instructions, it’s the only book available that takes adopting parents through the entire process, one step at a time/5(14). Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for How to Adopt Your Stepchild in California (Do Your Own California Adoption: Nolo’s Guide for Stepparents & Domestic Partners) at Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users/5(11).

Contact A People’s Choice for more information on how to adopt your adult stepchild in California. Steps to Adopting an Adult Stepchild in California. The procedures for adopting an adult stepchild are found in the California Family Code section You should read these code sections before beginning the process. Complete your adoption petition. The petition is the legal document you will file with the court requesting the judge to allow you to adopt your stepchild. If there is more than one child, you can adopt them all at once with the same petition. An adoption petition is a precise document that must be tailored to your state%(62). How to Adopt Your Stepchild in California with CDROM (Do Your Own California Adoption: Nolo’s Guide for Stepparents & Domestic Partners) [Zagone, Frank, Randolph, Mary] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. How to Adopt Your Stepchild in California with CDROM (Do Your Own California Adoption: Nolo’s Guide for Stepparents & Domestic Partners)/5(12). Adoption Agreement (Form ADOPT); and; Adoption Order (Form ADOPT). If your case is a “stepparent adoption to confirm parentage” (see the definition right above step 1), you also have to fill out a Declaration Confirming Parentage in Stepparent Adoption (Form ADOPT) or other declaration providing the same information required by.


The Petitioners (this means the adoptive parent and the adoptee) must file a Petition. This is the document that asks the Court to make an Order approving the adoption. It must say:

  • The name, age, date and place of birth of the Petitioners
  • How long the Petitioners have known each other
  • Why the Petitioners want the adoption to take place
  • If either Petitioner is married, the name of the spouse (if any), the date of their marriage, and the names and ages of their children. If spouses have signed consents to the adoption, list their names and dates they signed the consents. Attach the consents to the Petition.
  • The date your adoption agreement was signed. (Attach a copy of the adoption agreement.)
  • Whether the adoption is in the public interest

Adoption Agreement

This is the agreement between the person to be adopted and the adoptive parent. Both must sign and date the Agreement. The Agreement must say you both agree to assume the legal relationship of parent and child and all the duties and responsibilities of that relationship.

You must also agree to file a petition in the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara. Your Petition must ask the Court to approve your Agreement and to make an adoption Order. You do not have to notarize the Agreement.

Order of Adoption

To finalize the adoption, you must ask for a Court hearing. If the Judge approves your adoption agreement, s/he will sign an Order of Adoption.

The Order must contain all the information that is in the Petition and Agreement. Preparing an Order is complicated. Ask a lawyer to help you.

Both petitioners must go to the hearing. The biological parents do not need to consent to the adoption. But, if either Petitioner is married, you must have their spouse’s consent.

How do I schedule the hearing in Adoption Court?

File your papers in the Probate Department of the Superior Court, in Downtown Superior Court (DTS). See the Downtown Superior Court web page, for location, phone number and business hours.

There is no fee for an adult adoption.

When you file your papers, ask the Probate Clerk for a hearing date. Or, call the Probate Department. (See the court phone list and look for "Probate Filings".)

Hearings are on Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m.

Is the hearing confidential?

Yes. All adoption proceedings are heard privately in the Judge’s chambers. Friends, family, and cameras are always welcome.

How do I get ready for the hearing?

Bring the Order of Adoption and any consents that you did not file previously.

Both the proposed adoptive parent and adoptee must be at the hearing.

What do I do after the hearing?

After your hearing, file your papers with the Probate Department Clerk. You can get certified copies of the Order of Adoption for free. Just ask the clerk.

How do we ask for an amended Birth Certificate (VS44)?

You must file an amended birth certificate form (VS44) with the Court on or before the final hearing date. You can get this form from the agency you are working with or from the Probate Department of the Superior Court (at DTS).

After the adoption is final, the probate clerk will mail the VS44 to the State Registrar at the Department of Health Services in Sacramento. You will get an amended birth certificate in about 8 months.

Home » Blog » Can I Adopt My Stepchild in California?

How to adopt a stepchild in california

Adopting a child is not a simple process. It can be confusing and frustrating, especially if the child is a stepchild. Thankfully, working with an experienced family law attorney like Kendall Gkikas & Mitchell, LLP can help make the process less confusing and less stressful. With 27 years of experience, Kendall Gkikas & Mitchell, LLP will be there every step of the way.

Keep reading to learn more about adopting a stepchild in California!

What are the different types of stepparent adoption?

There are two types of stepparent adoption in California. The easiest and most straightforward option is when a stepparent is married to or a legal domestic partner to the parent when the child was born and is still married. The more cumbersome process is when the couple was not together when the child was born or are no longer together.

What does the adoption process look like?

So, what does the adoption process look like when you are adopting a stepchild? The first step is to gather information about the process, which a family law attorney like Kendall Gkikas & Mitchell, LLP can help with. You will need to fill out a variety of court forms and have them reviewed by your attorney. After making at least two copies of every form, they will be filed with the court clerk.

Papers will then need to be served to the other birth parent to notify them about the request for adoption and to ask for their consent to adopt the child. Depending on the age of the child, they will also be interviewed and their opinion will be taken into account. After this, an investigator will interview you and a court date for an adoption hearing will be issued.

What can I expect at the finalization hearing?

When you get to the finalization hearing, the parent adopting the child, their spouse, and the child must appear. The hearing will usually take place one or two months after the investigation was filed. After the adoption is finalized, an amended birth certificate will be issued that shows the adopted parent as the birth parent. You can also change the child’s last name on the birth certificate.

Contact Kendall Gkikas & Mitchell, LLP today for help with a stepchild adoption in California.

Now that you know a bit more about the adoption process for stepchildren in California, if you are ready to take the next step, you should contact the team at Kendall Gkikas & Mitchell, LLP. Since 1994 , we have been offering our clients assistance with adoptions in the state of California. Whether you are interested in a stepchild adoption or adoption of another kind, we are here to help. Our skilled attorneys know the ins and outs of the adoption process and can help make everything run smoothly. Give us a call at 909-482-1422 to request your initial consultation!

To learn more about the reliable and quality family law services that we offer, visit us on the web at Kendall Gkikas & Mitchell, LLP.

alt=”California step parent adoption” width=”130″ height=”150″ />START YOUR CALIFORNIA ADOPTION.

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How to adopt a stepchild in california

Now you can complete your stepparent adoption in California without having to pay high attorney fees. We make it possible to file and your own adoption. We never sell “automated” adoption forms, only documents prepared by an experienced adoption specialist. Our experienced California adoption team will review your information and prepare adoption papers specifically for your situation.

Information on filing an adoption in California.

When we prepare your California adoption papers, we will include all the provisions specific to your situation. Documents we prepare for one family will be different than the documents for another family, because circumstances are different. We ensure that your adoption forms are ready to sign and file with the court in California. Whether you are filing a stepparent adoption or an adult adoption, we will be able to help you get your adoption finalized.

You can complete your California stepparent adoption. We prepare your legal forms and help you through the adoption process.

Residency in California:

You must be a resident of the State of California for 6 months prior to filing your adoption. The adoption is filed with the Probate Court in the county where you reside.

Consent of Absent Parent:

Most of the adoptions we help families complete are not able to get the consent of the absent parent. The adoption can be completed without the absent parent’s consent if that parent has abandoned the child. Abandonment is when the other parent has not any substantial contact for the past 12 months.

Consent of child:

In California, if the child is 14 years or older, the child will sign a consent to adoption.

When absent parent’s whereabouts or identity are unknown:

It is fairly common that the absent parent’s whereabouts are unknown. It is also fairly common that the biological father’s identity is unknown. In both situations, you can still complete the stepparent adoption.

Stepparent Adoption in California:

No matter what your situation may be, we have the experience to help you complete your adoption. A stepparent adoption in California takes approximately 3 months to be final. Once completed, the child will receive a new birth certificate showing the child’s new name and the new parent.

Adult Adoption in California:

Adult adoptions in California are very simple. As an adult, the adoptee can decide on their own that they want to be adopted, and they don’t need the consent of the biological parent. An adult adoption can be finalized as soon as 45-60 days.

How to adopt a stepchild in california

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