Adoption is a beautiful way to grow your California family, but depending on the circumstances, it can also be a complex process. This is especially true if you wish to adopt your spouse's biological children. Before you proceed with the stepparent adoption process, it may be beneficial to first learn more about the legal options available to you.
Like any other significant family law decisions, you will want to have the guidance and support of an experienced legal ally. This can help you and your spouse understand how to proceed and what you need in order to accomplish your goals. Regardless of how you, your spouse and your stepchildren feel about adoption, there are specific requirements you'll have to meet before you proceed.
One of the most important issues in any stepparent adoption proceeding is parental rights. Even if everyone in the family wants to proceed with the adoption process, the law considers the rights of both biological parents. This means in order to adopt your stepkids, the other parent will have to give up his or her parental rights. As you can imagine, this is not an easy decision, and it can be especially complicated when the other parent is absent or unfit.
If the other biological parent objects, you may not be able to proceed. However, you may be able to request a fitness hearing in court to terminate parental rights in some circumstances. This is more likely in cases where one parent is absent, incarcerated, abusive, neglectful or struggling with addition problems. It may also be possible to secure termination of parental rights if there are questions over paternity.
Even though same-sex couples have the same rights as other couples, they can still have challenges when navigating family law matters. If you are in a same-sex marriage and would like to adopt your stepchildren, this is an option for you. Of course, the same laws regarding the parental rights of the parent will apply to your situation.
Help with your goals
If you would like to adopt your stepchildren, you do not have to walk through this challenging process alone. It can be helpful to start with an evaluation of your case and assessment of the legal options available to you. With the support and guidance of an experienced family law attorney, you will be able to avoid preventable setbacks and effectively pursue your desired outcome.