Freedom from Parental Custody and Control
What is Freedom from Parental Custody and Control?
When a person is seeking to adopt the child of another, both parents must consent to the adoption. If one of the parent’s whereabouts are unknown or they are unwilling to consent to the adoption, it will be necessary to terminate their parental rights before the adoption can proceed.
How do I start the process?
You must file a petition to free the minor from the parental custody of his absent parent. The petition can be filed with the Family Law Clerk’s Office. There are no state forms available for this process. For a sample petition, refer to the workbook How to Adopt Your Stepchild in California, published by Nolo Press. It is available for review at the Self-Help Center.
See the fee schedule for fees to file the petition, there are additional fees for investigation service. If the fees present a hardship, you may be eligible for a fee waiver. The Request to Waive Court Fees (FW-001) is the basic fee waiver form. To learn more about this form and applying for a fee waiver, read the Information Sheet on Waiver of Superior Court Fees and Costs.
What happens next?
Once the petition has been filed, a court investigator will document the efforts to locate the absent parent or that parent’s feelings about the proposed adoption. If the absent parent is located and is willing to sign the consent, the termination of their parental rights will not be necessary. The investigator will recommend either for or against the termination. A trial is possible if the absent parent contests the adoption. If the judicial officer terminates the absent parent’s rights and the court investigator has recommended in favor of the adoption, you will then be permitted to set the hearing for adoption.