The information included in this guide does not apply to independent, agency, international, or adult adoptions. See the Adult Adoption Guide for information on that procedure.
You can find additional materials on family law by browsing the library shelves near the listed books or by searching the library catalog.
Adoption is a process that creates a legal parent-child status between parties who do not have a biological parent-child relationship. Once an adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents and children have the same rights and obligations as legal or biological parents and children (Family Code §8616). In other words, the parents and children acquire rights such as custody and inheritance, and responsibilities such as child support and liability for the child's willful misconduct.
In a stepparent adoption, one biological parent (the adopting parent's spouse) retains parental rights, but the parent-child relationship is severed with the other parent (Family Code §8548). After this relationship is severed, the biological parent loses all rights to and responsibility for the child (Family Code §8617). The adopting parent acquires these rights and responsibilities.
Stepparent adoption is a permanent transfer of parental rights and responsibilities. Once a stepparent adoption is finalized, it cannot be revoked or nullified, except in very rare situations, such as serious legal defect, fraud, or mental illness or disability discovered within 5 years of the adoption (Family Code §§ 9100-9102). The adoption is not terminated if the stepparent and biological parent divorce.
In order to proceed with a stepparent adoption, you must meet all the legal requirements:
2. PRACTICE GUIDES
Stepparent adoptions require statewide Judicial Council forms, state agency forms, and Sacramento County Superior Court local forms. These forms, along with step-by-step instructions, are available from the Sacramento County Superior Court's website at http://www.saccourt.ca.gov/family/self-help-resources.aspx#stepparent-adoption.
Additionally, if parental consent cannot be obtained from the absent parent, you will need to create several pleading documents that ask the court to terminate that parent's rights. Samples of these pleadings are available in the Law Library, using the resources listed above.
All of the materials listed above will refer you to sections of the California Codes.
- Deering's California Code Annotated KFC 30.5 .D4 (Compact)
- West's Annotated California Codes KFC 30 .W48
- California State Codes (www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html)
updated 08/12 mpj