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Bay Area Family Attorneys > San Francisco Stepparent Adoption Attorney

San Francisco Stepparent Adoption Attorney

More and more Bay Area families are the product of second–even third–marriages. This often means that one or both spouses now find themselves with stepchildren. While every stepparent-stepchild relationship is different, in many cases there is a close bond that forms, and consequently the stepparent may decide to adopt their stepchild as their own.

Stepparent adoption is not just a matter of informal agreement among the parties. It is a legal process that must be strictly followed. A qualified San Francisco stepparent adoption attorney can explain this process to you. Cardwell Steigerwald Young LLP is a California family law firm that has helped many clients with successful stepparent adoptions. We can advise you on the legal rights and responsibilities of an adoptive parent and represent you in completing the formal requirements of adoption.

How Stepparent Adoption Works in California

Under California law, a stepparent adoption makes the stepparent the child’s legal parent. An adoptive parent has the same rights–and responsibilities–as a natural parent. This means that even if the adoptive parent later divorces the natural parent, the parent-child relationship remains intact. Indeed, when a stepparent adopts a stepchild, it also severs the legal relationship between that child and the non-custodial parent.

For this reason, a stepparent usually needs to obtain the consent of the non-custodial parent in order to proceed with an adoption. If the non-custodial parent refuses consent, the stepparent adoption generally cannot proceed absent a court order finding the parent has abandoned the child or is otherwise unfit. If the non-custodial parent has died or cannot be found following a diligent search, the stepparent adoption may still proceed without consent.

There are also cases where the child may have an “alleged” or “presumed” parent. For example, if the child’s biological paternity was never legally established, a person identified by the mother as the alleged father must be notified of the stepparent adoption proceeding. The alleged father can then either admit or deny paternity. But in any event, it is critical to try and establish the identity of the other parent, as well as make reasonable efforts to obtain their consent before proceeding with a stepparent adoption.

Once consent is obtained from the other parent–or established as unnecessary–the stepparent must then file a formal adoption petition with a California Superior Court judge. The court will then appoint an investigator to interview the parties and conduct one or more home visits, as they would in any adoption proceeding. Once the investigator completes this work and submits their report, the court can issue an order approving the stepparent adoption.

Contact the San Francisco Stepparent Adoption Attorney at Cardwell Steigerwald Young Today

A stepparent adoption takes time and patience. Depending on your family situation, you may need to deal with issues regarding consent and meeting other requirements as directed by the court. Our San Francisco stepparent adoption attorney is prepared to stand by you at each stage of this process. Call Cardwell Steigerwald Young LLP today at 415-259-5885 to schedule a consultation.

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