If a person in California marries another person who already has a child, the new spouse will have no parental rights to the stepchild. This can have devastating consequences if something should happen to the custodial parent of the child. The court may then rule that the child’s other biological parent should have custody. Fortunately, stepparent adoption provides the non-biological parent the opportunity to step in and play a nurturing role in the child’s life.
Stepparent adoption is the process of legally establishing a parent-child relationship between a child and a person who wants to provide love and care as a biological parent would, even though he or she is not the birth parent. This process is less complicated than other adoptions because one spouse is already a biological parent. Once the process is finalized, both spouses will have equal responsibilities and legal parental rights.
However, before the adoption process can commence, the parental rights of the non-custodial biological parent must be terminated — if he or she is still alive. This will not only free that parent from any child support obligations but also remove his or her visitation rights. If the whereabouts of that parent is unknown, or if he or she refuses to consent to termination of parental rights, this process could be challenging.
It is a significant decision to become legally, financially and emotionally responsible for a child with no biological connection. A stepparent adoption can also involve a same-sex couple, of which only one party has a biological link to the child; and, to make them both equal parents, this is the route to take. The legalities can be complicated, and many couples utilize the skills of an experienced California family law attorney to support and guide them through the process.
Source: courts.ca.go, “Adoption“, Accessed on Feb. 22, 2018