Stepparent Adoption

Westlake Village Stepparent Adoption Lawyer

Understanding the Benefits of Stepparent Adoption in California

Although there are four different types of adoption in California—including stepparent, independent, agency and international—stepparent adoption is by far the most common. Since marriage alone does not give a non-biological parent the legal ability to make decisions on behalf of their stepchild, an official adoption would be the only way to solidify that parent's rights. In order to do so, the individual must be married to, or in a domestic partnership with, the child's biological parent.

Once the adoption has been approved, the stepparent's relationship with the child would be no different, under California law, than that of a biological parent and their child. For this reason, you should not hesitate to discuss your case with a Westlake Village family law attorney at Richard Ross Associates if you or someone you love is interested in stepparent adoption.

Examining the Provisions of Family Code §8600-8622

Despite the fact that stepparent adoption is one of the easiest forms of adoption in California, there are several important factors that must be taken into consideration before initiating the process. Under the law, there are a number of requirements that must be upheld in order for the adoption process to be completed successfully—which may include gaining consent from the child and both biological parents. For this reason, we encourage you to review some of the provisions of stepparent adoption listed below:

  • Family Code §8601 – Unless the court sees fit to make an exception, the stepparent must be at least 18 years old, and at least 10 years older than the child.
  • Family Code §8602 – If the child is over the age of 12 years old, they must consent to the possibility of stepparent adoption.
  • Family Code §8604 – Unless the other biological parent has terminated their rights, the prospective adoptive stepparent must gain consent.
  • Family Code §9000 – The prospective adoptive stepparent must be legally married to, or in a domestic partnership with, the child's biological parent.

Depending on the nature of your case, it may be possible for the court to waive some of the aforementioned requirements—should you not be able to meet them. This is an extremely delicate process, however, so it is highly recommended that you do not attempt to navigate it alone. By enlisting the help of an experienced legal professional from Richard Ross Associates, you can rest easier knowing that your best interests will be upheld throughout the entire adoption process.

Gaining Consent / Terminating Parental Rights

In order for a stepparent to legally adopt their stepchild, they must first acquire the consent of the other biological parent. Since most are unwilling to forfeit their parental rights, this can be a rather contentious process. For this reason, it may be necessary for the couple to prove that the biological parent is unfit to fulfill their responsibilities as a guardian. In doing so, this would effectively terminate that parent's rights—thus making it unnecessary to gain consent for the stepparent adoption. Although this might not be an ideal situation, it may be the only way to uphold the best interests of the child. This can be done by proving to the court that the biological parent had abandoned the child, that they are unfit to fulfill their responsibilities and/or that they have failed to support the child.

Need an attorney for stepparent adoption in Thousand Oaks?

If you or someone you love is interested in stepparent adoption, it is crucial that you discuss your case with a Westlake Village family law attorney from Richard Ross Associates. This process not only requires extensive paperwork, but careful collaboration, so our firm would like to ensure that you do not run into any foreseeable obstacles. By taking the time to sit down with an experienced lawyer, you will have the ability to move through the complex legal process of stepparent adoption with confidence. For this reason, we encourage you to take the first step today by picking up the phone and contacting our firm at (805) 410-3407. If you would prefer to contact us online, you are also welcome to submit a case evaluation form directly from our website. From there, we can work together toward the successful conclusion that you are looking for.


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  • This is very important: If you have separated from your spouse before one of you has filed for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, avoid agreeing to and placing into effect a temporary parenting plan arrangement regarding the children unless you will be able to live with this arrangement after the divorce papers have been filed. Once you begin a parenting plan that seems to be working, it becomes the "status quo." It is very difficult to convince a mediator or judge to change the status quo, especially if it is working or appears to be working and is not detrimental to the minor children.
  • If you have not received a judgment dissolving your marriage before the end of the year, you may file an individual tax return under the status of "married, filing separately" or a joint tax return with your spouse. You should consult your accountant as to the advantages of these options. You may obtain special information booklets regarding tax information for divorce or separated individuals from your local IRS office or read the IRS booklet online.
  • To file an action for divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, a person must have resided in the state of California for six months and in the county where the action is filed for three months prior to filing the petition in court. This is true of either the petitioner or the respondent - either person can meet the test and allow a filing. If your spouse meets the residency requirement, you can file even if you do not meet it yourself.
  • The court can and usually will order you to move out of your residence if your spouse convinces the court that you have been violent toward your spouse or threatened your spouse. You could be given ex-parte notice to be in court the next day because your spouse is seeking an order to make you move out and stay out. You can be ordered to leave immediately and not return even if your spouse is not on the property title or lease agreement! Once you are ordered to leave, it is not likely that you will be allowed to return.
  • Before you get a divorce, photocopy all relevant financial documents that you can obtain and store them off-site with a trusted friend or relative. Do not store them in the trunk of your car where they can easily be found and removed by your spouse. There may be both personal and strategic reasons not to tip off your spouse that documents are being reviewed for a possible dissolution proceeding. Make copies of documents that you find in the residence and return the original documents to their original location as soon as possible so that your spouse won't notice that they are missing. It is often advisable to make the photocopies when you are sure your spouse is away for an extended time, such as during a workday. It is advisable to gather as many relevant financial documents as possible while they are still available and before they have been removed or destroyed by your spouse. This will significantly reduce the cost of divorce litigation if the documents do not have to be recovered later. It will also permit us to get a true picture of all community assets and debts as soon as possible.