Stepparent Adoption


Can you assist me in doing a stepparent adoption?

Yes. If you can obtain the consent of the absent biological parent, we can prepare all the necessary paperwork for you at a low fixed cost. We will provide you step-by-step information on what to do and how to process the paperwork. Full representation is offered in Tulare, Kings, and Fresno Counties.

What is an adoption?

An adoption, including a stepparent adoption, creates a legal parent-child status between people who do not have a biological parent-child relationship. Once an adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents and children have the same rights and obligations as legal or biological parents and children ( See Family Code sec. 8616).

What is a stepparent adoption?

A stepparent who is married to a birth parent with custody and control of a minor child may adopt the minor child through a stepparent adoption. A person in a registered domestic partnership can also adopt the child of his/her domestic partner.

How does a stepparent adoption affect the legal rights of the biological parents and the adopting parent?

In a stepparent adoption, one biological parent (the adopting parent's spouse) keeps all parental rights, but the parent-child relationship is severed with the other parent (Family Code sec. 8548). After this relationship is severed, the biological parent legally loses all rights to and responsibility for the child (Family Code sec. 8617) and the adopting parent acquires these rights and responsibilities.

Can I change my mind or legal responsibilities after the adoption, for example, if I and the biological parent divorce?

A stepparent adoption is transfers all parental rights and responsibilities. Once a stepparent adoption is finalized, it cannot be revoked or nullified, except in limited situations, such as serious legal defect, fraud, or mental illness or disability. There are serious time restriction for filing a petition to set aside an adoption. The adoption is not terminated if or when the stepparent and biological parent get divorced.

Are there any legal requirements or restriction for a stepparent adoption?


(1) The adopting and biological or legal parent must be legally married or in a domestic partnership registered with the state (Family Code sec.9000).

(2) The adopting parent must be at least 18 years old, and at least 10 years older than the child (Family Code sec. 8600-8601). The 10-year age difference may be waived in some situations.

(3) The adopting parent's spouse or domestic partner must consent to the adoption (Family Code sec. 8603).

(4) The child's other legal parent must consent to the adoption.

(5) If the child is 12 years or older, the child must consent to the adoption (Family Code sec. 8602).

What if the consent of the other biological parent cannot be obtained?

There are ways to proceed with an adoption, even if the other biological parent's consent cannot be obtained. (See Family Code sec. 8604-8606). These include a willful failure to support, abandonment, previous termination of parental rights in another judicial proceeding, or termination of parental rights. The general rule is that if an absent parent has failed to support the child for a year or longer or if the absent parent has not visited or maintained contact with the child for a year or longer, the parental rights of that absent parent may be terminated. If you cannot obtain the consent of the biological parent, you would be well advised to seek the assistance of an attorney.