Ventura Stepchild Adoption Attorney

Adopting your stepchild can add an extra layer of family unity that brings everyone closer.  Especially in blended families, adopting each other’s children can be an added level of commitment and closeness to tie your family together after marriage.  If you are considering adopting your spouse’s children or they want to adopt your children, talk to an attorney about the process and ramifications of adopting your stepchildren in California.

The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth’s Ventura stepchild adoption attorneys can help you with your case and help you explain the pros and cons of stepchild adoption in California.  To schedule a free legal consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.  If, instead of adoption, you are seeking child custody rights for a stepchild, please see our Ventura stepchild custody page.

Pros and Cons of Adopting a Stepchild in California

When you adopt a child in California, you become the child’s legal parent in place of the parent(s) you adopted from.  This means that if you are adopting a child from another couple, those parents will become legal strangers to the child, and you will become the legal parent instead.  The same is true for adopting a stepchild: you will fully replace the child’s other parent for all legal intents and purposes.  This comes with a few benefits and drawbacks:

Pros of Stepchild Adoption

Without adopting a stepchild, you are essentially a legal stranger to the child.  While you may be able to make disciplinary decisions in your own household, having your stepchild live with you does not give you the ability to make legal decisions for your child regarding their healthcare, education, religion, or other broad categories of decisions in the child’s life.  Instead, your spouse makes these decisions, potentially taking input from you.  If you adopt your stepchild, you gain these legal rights in your own right.

This means you would no longer have to defer to your spouse or the child’s other parent for signatures on medical permission slips or educational decisions.  If there is any conflict in your family because of what religion your stepchild is being raised under, you may be able to resolve these issues by adopting your stepchild as well.  Moreover, you can do things like apply for a passport on your stepchild’s behalf and open savings accounts for them.

Lastly, you will be able to put your name on your stepchild’s birth certificate.  This gives you the right to change their name to match yours and bring the family closer together in more observable ways.

If your marriage to the child’s parent ends in divorce, you are still a legal parent and will be able to claim custody and visitation rights after the divorce.  Without adopting your stepchildren, you may not be allowed to see them anymore after a divorce.

Cons of Stepchild Adoption

Since adoption replaces the other parent, this could create unnecessary tension between you and the child’s other birth parent.  If the other parent had a good relationship with the child, your adoption will block them from having legal rights and automatic access to the child.  While they may still be able to apply for visitation, there is no guarantee the court will allow them to remain a part of the child’s life.  However, if you agree to visitation and want to keep that parent involved in the child’s life, you can usually help affect that.

There are also economic effects of adoption.  As long as the other birth parent still has custody of the child, they may be required to pay child support to help pay for their child’s needs.  If you adopt the child, it will usually cut off that child support, and you and your spouse alone will be financially responsible for the child.  Even if your spouse passes away or you get divorced from the stepchild’s parent, you will be obligated to continue to support your stepchildren if you adopt them.

The Process of Adopting a Stepchild in California

When you seek to adopt a child from another couple or an adoption agency, the process can be long and drawn-out.  Stepchild adoptions are often much shorter since at least one of the parents supports the decision and there is less need to run background checks and investigations of the prospective adoptive parent.  However, there are still some steps to take to affect the stepchild adoption.

First, you must file with the court and notify the other parent of the proceedings.  The court will need to have the other parent appear in court since this adoption will affect their legal rights.  In many cases, the birth parent consents to the adoption, which makes things far simpler.  If the original parent does not consent, courts can still sever their parental rights against their will, which means they will need to be present in court and given a chance to argue against the adoption.

There will typically be at least one day in court to present your adoption case and have a judge finalize it.  If the judge needs to hold any hearings to determine any reason why you should not adopt, the judge will schedule that.  Otherwise, the process predominately involves filing forms and notifying the other parent, which your attorney can do on your behalf.

Call Our Ventura Stepchild Adoption Attorney for a Free Legal Consultation

If you or your spouse is considering adopting their stepchildren, talk to a lawyer today.  Blended families often struggle if one parent does not have the same legal rights as the other, and adoption can help you become legal equals as parents and eliminate complications of deferring to the child’s other parent during decision-making.  For a free consultation on your case, contact the Ventura stepchild adoption lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today at (805) 643-5555.

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