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Can stepparents adopt their spouses’ children in California?

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2021 | Guardianship And Adoption |

Having blended families can come with challenges and rewards that are hard to imagine until one finds themselves in the role of a stepparent. Many times, stepparents and stepchildren develop a parent-child role that inspires stepparents to initiate the adoption process.

A stepparent that is considering adopting their spouses’ children, could benefit by beginning the process of self-educating about their options. There are many factors to consider when looking to adopt stepchildren, and California has made the process more streamlined and efficient than other states.

Adoption process streamlined in California

The Modern Family Act (AB 2344) went into effect on January 1, 2015. Benefits of the simplified process include not having a home investigation, background check or court hearing. These requirements can be ordered by the judge if they believe it’s necessary.

Consent of non-custodial biological parent

The court requires that the parent and the stepparent receive permission from the non-custodial biological parent, agreeing to give up custody of the child. The Adoption Request form ADOPT-200 must be served to the other birth parent. The request form must have the court date on it and it cannot be served by the custodial biological parent or stepparent.

What if the non-custodial biological parent won’t consent to the adoption?

It is required that the other birth parent agree or consent to the adoption. If they refuse, adoption may still be possible if the court terminates the parental rights of the non-consenting biological parent. If the judge decides that adoption is in the best interest of the child, terminating the parental rights of the non-custodial biological parent is necessary. This can be done without the other parent’s consent if certain conditions are met.

Cases where the other parent refuses an adoption can be a legal challenge. When initiating the process of adoption by a stepparent, it can be helpful to have professional guidance that is experienced in stepparent adoptions in California.