There are many cases in which a person may want to adopt the child or his or her spouse or domestic partner. This type of adoption is referred to as a "stepparent adoption" or a "domestic partner adoption." This usually requires the other biological parent to provide consent for the adoption (when this is possible or appropriate), which results in that parent losing his or her own parental rights and responsibilities over the child. Once the adoption is completed, the stepparent or domestic partner has all the same rights as a biological parent (such as child custody), and the child also has the same rights as a biological child (such as inheritance). This new child-parent relationship is made permanent, which means that even if the stepparent or domestic partner gets a divorce from the child's legal parent, the adoptive child-parent relationship is still legally binding.
Here are the various requirements that must be met in California before a stepparent or domestic partner adoption can take place, according to the Sacramento County Public Law Library:
- The stepparent must be married to (or in a registered domestic partnership with) one of the child's legal parents. If this requirement is not met, it may still be possible to carry out an adoption under the "second parent adoption" process, which can be very complex.
- The stepparent or domestic partner must be at least 18 years old. He or she must also be a minimum of 10 years older than child. There are some exceptions to this rule.
- Consent must be provided by the spouse or domestic partner who is already the child's legal parent.
- Consent must be provided by the child's other parent--the parent who is not the spouse or domestic partner of the person trying to become the adoptive parent. In some cases, such as certain cases involving child abandonment, it may be possible to complete the adoption without the other parent's consent.
- Consent by the child--only if he or she is 12 years old or older.
As can be seen from the list above, stepparent/domestic partner adoption is not a cut-and-dry process. It can potentially be a very complex procedure, considering that there are so many exceptions to the basic rules. When deciding whether an adoption can take place, the court will take the specifics of the case and determine what is in the best interests of the child. With the help of a capable attorney, you may be able to increase your chances of successfully carrying out an adoption as a stepparent of domestic partner of a parent.
Kevin B. Gibbs--our Orange County divorce attorney at Kevin B. Gibbs, APLC--has more than two decades of experience practicing family law. He is a board-certified specialist in the area of family law, which means that he has met stringent requirements within his field. Contact us to find out how Attorney Gibbs can assist you with your stepparent/domestic partner adoption matter!