Los Angeles Stepparent Adoption Attorneys
If a biological parent has legal custody of a child and that parent remarries, then he or she may allow the new spouse to adopt the child as a stepparent. Such adoption provides legal, financial, and even emotional benefits to both the child and stepparent by helping to create stronger family bonds. Even a grandparent can adopt a grandchild for the purposes of providing financial support, such as health benefits.
Once a stepparent adoption is finalized, the biological parent who is remarrying retains parental rights, but the legal rights of the non-custodial parent are extinguished. At that point, the non-custodial parent no longer has any legal rights or responsibilities to the child, and the adopting stepparent will gain those rights and responsibilities. Once this transfer of rights has occurred, it cannot be reversed or voided, except under a few circumstances such as fraud, mental illness/disability, or serious legal defect discovered within five years after the adoption. As such, an adoption is not automatically terminated if the stepparent and biological parent become divorced.
Although stepparent adoption is usually a more straightforward process than other types of adoption, problems can sometimes arise. For example, if a biological parent cannot be located to give consent, or if that parent refuses to grant consent, the adoption process can be much more drawn out. In such cases, the court has the power to terminate parental rights via a court order. Once the non-custodial parent’s rights are terminated, the custodial parent and stepparent can petition the court for a stepparent adoption.
Step Parent Adoption Eligibility
To be eligible for a stepparent adoption in Los Angeles, a person must be legally married to (or the registered domestic parent of) the custodial parent of the child. Other requirements for a stepparent adoption include:
1) The stepparent is an adult and should be at least 10 years older than the child (there are some legal exceptions to this requirement).
2) The biological parent has legal custody of the child.
3) The adopting parent must have the consent of the child if he or she is 12 years old or older.
4) The adopting parent must have the consent of the non-custodial parent (however, this consent isn’t necessary if that parent is deceased or a court orders that consent is not necessary).
5) The adoption needs to be approved by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or the appropriate county agency.
Department of Children and Family Services
In Los Angeles County, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is charged with investigating an adoption petition, which includes interviews, seeking consent from both legal parents (if living), fingerprinting, and background check. As such, it is important to disclose all relevant information to a DCFS social worker in charge of a case.
Contact us at (424) 201-5444 to discuss your matter.