Second Parent Adoption California
Is There a Difference Between Second Parent Adoption and Stepparent Adoption?
Stepparent Adoption Basics
If a biological parent has a child from a previous relationship, there are situations where the stepparent can legally adopt their spouse’s child. The stepparent adoption process creates a new parent child relationship between the child and their stepparent.
For the stepparent adoptions to take place, the non-custodial birth parent must consent to the step parent adoption first. If the child’s birth parent does not consent, the stepparent must file to terminate the parental rights of the other parent through a separate legal process. If the court grants the request to terminate the parental rights of the other person, the adoption request can continue, and the stepparent adoption can take place.
Second Parent Adoption Basics
Second parent adoption is where one partner adopts the other partner’s child biological child. This usually occurs with same sex couples who have used assisted reproduction, but not always. The difference between this and a stepparent adoption is that there is no termination of a biological parent’s rights.
Second parent adoption is available to all couples, even if they are not married or in a domestic partnership.
Although same sex marriage is now legal and recognized in all states, it was only just recently that same-sex adoptions were mandated to be allowed in all 50 states. Just like any other adoption process, second parent adoption establishes legal rights that will be recognized in any jurisdiction, even if that jurisdiction discriminates against the rights of same sex couples.
General Adoption Basics
The prospective adoptive parent must agree that they will care for the child and treat them as their own. They must commit to caring for the child and providing emotional and financial support.
The adopting parent normally must be at least 10 years older than the adoptive child.
In both types of adoption, the legal or custodial parent must consent. If the child is over 12, they must also consent to their adoption.
Which Type of Adoption Do We Need?
If you are married or domestic partners of the custodial parent of the child you wish to adopt but were not in a legal relationship with the other parent when the child was born, you can petition for a stepparent adoption.
If you were married to, or in a domestic partnership with, the child’s biological parent when the child was born, such as often occurs with reproductive assistance, then you would petition for second parent adoption.
If you are currently not married to, or the domestic partner of, the child’s birth parent, no matter what the circumstances of the child’s birth, you must use the second parent adoption request process.
If the child currently has two legal parents, no matter which adoption type is appropriate for your case, the existing parent must agree to the adoption, or their parental rights must be terminated first. This is normally done in a separate action and can take many months.
What Does the Adoption Process Look Like?
If termination of the rights of an existing legal parent has already been done, or if they consent to the adoption of their biological child, the adoption process can begin.
Before any prospective adoptive parents can become legal parents, an adoption action has to be filed in the county where the child resides. There is a small court filing fee to file the action.
Both types of actions have similar processes. However, there are streamlined processes available for stepparent adoption and for parents who were legally married or domestic partners at the time of the child’s birth, such as in the case of children born through assisted reproduction.
In the streamlined process, an investigation is conducted by a social worker into the home of the child’s family. In the streamlined second parent or stepparent investigation, social services will meet with the family once and perform a home study to be sure the adopted child will be well cared for in their current home. There are costs associated with the investigation, so you should speak with the court or your adoption attorneys to learn what the costs might be. There are normally no tax credits offered for the streamlined processes.
In a traditional second parent adoption investigation, the process is basically an independent adoption, just like the process a couple who adopts a child from unrelated birth parents would have to do. The home study done by the social worker is more in-depth and can take longer than those in the streamlined process. There is normally more than one meeting during this home study.
The costs associated with traditional second parent adoption can be significantly higher due to the cost of the investigations. However, in the traditional second parent adoption process, the family can qualify for an adoption assistance credit, so some or all of the legal fees can be written off as a tax credit.
Once the investigation is complete, a report will be submitted to the court, and you will be given a court date. Most reports recommend the adoption take place.
At the court hearing, the Judge will make sure that all of the legal requirements for adoption have been met and ensure that the custodial parent, and any children over age 12, consents to the adoption. Once the court finds that all requirements are met, the Judge will sign the order.
An adoption hearing is often treated as a celebration. Family and friends will typically attend the hearing. Some Judges will invite the new family to take photos with them to commemorate the occasion.
Once a legal adoption has been completed, the birth parent and their spouse become the legal parents of the child. A new birth certificate will be issued and will be amended to reflect the new adopting parent.
A certified copy of the birth certificate will be mailed by the Department of Vital Statistics, and the legal adoption process will be complete.
Why is it Important to Adopt?
Because federal and state laws differ, just because you are named on a birth certificate does not mean a legal parent child relationship is established. In the case of same sex partners, being married does not automatically make the non-biological spouse a legal parent of the child.
A legally adopted child has certain rights that a child who has not been adopted may not have. For example, if a legal adoptive parent dies, their children can receive Social Security payments for their support. Child support can be ordered payable to or from adoptive parents.
A step parent or non-biological step parent does not have the same rights in child custody actions as a legal parent.
There are many reasons why it is important to adopt. You should speak with an adoption attorney to discuss such matters and ensure that no matter what happens in the future, you will have the legal ability to remain in your child’s life, no matter what your genetic connection is.
Also Read: Divorce After Adoption