Step-Parent and Third-Party Adoptions
Adoptions can be initiated for various reasons with the goal of providing a happy and safe environment for the adopted child. Adoption in California is a procedure in which a legal adult, other than one of the biological parents of the child, becomes legally responsible for that child.
Most adoptions are either step-parent adoptions or third-party adoptions. They can be contested or uncontested. Contested adoptions occur when the biological parent, or other relatives, object through legal process to the adoption being granted by the court. The opposite action is an uncontested adoption, when there is no opposition to the adoption, either by the biological parent or from other family members, including grandparents.
Typically, step-parent adoptions occur when the parent who has custody of the child remarries. In some situations, the biological parent is deceased or has abandoned the child. The reason for a step-parent adoption is to provide the child with two parents to love and care for the child. More often, the motivation is to have the custodial parent’s new spouse also become legally responsible for the child.
It is not unusual for a living biological parent to cooperate with this process because, once the cohabitant of the custodial parent adopts the child, the “new parent” is legally responsible for the child. This includes financial support of the adopted child. Once the adoption is completed, the biological parent with terminated parental rights no longer is required to pay ongoing child support, with the exception of any arrears that are still owed.
Third Party Adoptions
A third-party adoption in California involves an unrelated person, not a stepparent, of a child. This type of adoption is the process where the child’s biological parents and the prospective adoptive parents work together without the involvement of an agency. The child’s biological parents or legal guardians must consent to the adoption. They must also surrender their rights as a parent to the prospective adoptive parents.
The adoption process can trigger certain issues, such as the effect on the rights of grandparents and other family members who have an established relationship with the child. For this and others reasons it is not uncommon to include family counseling during the adoption process.
When considering adoption, it is best for families to seek the advice of a family law attorney to move through this process smoothly and successfully.