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Step-Parent Adoptions

What is a Step-Parent Adoption?

A legal process in which one legal parent has custody of a minor and the stepmother or stepfather is seeking to become the legal parent of the child.

How does the process begin?

Refer to the California Courts Self-Help Center, Guide to adoptions in California.

An adoption request is filed with the Family Law Clerk's office. Forms can be found at the California Courts 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. For additional fees a (FW-002) is required. 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 an adoption request has been filed, Family Court Services will be notified and begin the investigation process. The petitioner will be given forms to complete and a list of documents the petitioner will need to obtain. Once you have gathered the required documents, you will need to schedule an appointment with the court investigator. The investigator will interview the petitioner, the spouse and the minor(s). The investigator will check law enforcement records, child abuse registry records and will verify the petitioner's employment. Petitioner must obtain references from three individuals not related to the him or her. The investigator's report, recommending for or against the adoption, will be sent to the court.

What about the other (absent) parent?

It is necessary to either gain the consent of the absent parent or terminate their parental rights before the adoption can be granted. It is the responsibility of the petitioner to attempt to locate the other parent and obtain their consent. If their whereabouts are unknown or they are unwilling to sign the consent, the petitioner will need to meet the legal requirements to proceed with the adoption. See Freedom from Parental Custody and Control

When will the adoption take place?

If all the legal requirements have been met, the petitioner will need to submit a memorandum for a hearing. The Family Law Clerk's Office will then set a hearing date for adoption. The State of California will send you a birth certificate with the child's adopted name six to twelve months after the adoption hearing.

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