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Effect of Stepparent Adoptions

Stepchild Adoption and the Effect of an Adoption Order

If either your partner, or yourself have children from a previous marriage or relationship that currently live with you, you are already part of a step-family. Much of the time, when a stepparent is living with a child, taking complete responsibility for them on a daily basis, they feel the desire to acknowledge their relationship with that child on a more formal level through the process of adoption.

As the partner of the child’s natural parent, a stepparent has the right to apply to adopt that child and the process that you engage in will depend on what is best for yourself, and your family.

What is an Adoption Order in San Diego?

In order for a stepparent to adopt their partner’s child, the legal relationship between that child and their other natural parent must be ended, along with any legal relationship with that side of the family’s extended family network, such as grandparents and aunts. This can be a particularly difficult part of the process, since some children feel as though they are being given the choice to decide between which adults are their favorite, and they may later blame the stepparent for this if they feel they are pushed to hastily into the wrong decision.  As the stepparent, you have the right to allow the child to maintain a relationship with their extended family.  This decision should be made in the best interest of the child, if the child has a great relationship with grandparents it would be detrimental to just deny them the right once the parental rights with the biological parent has been terminated.

One important note to remember, once the adoption process is complete the child loses their inheritance and maintenance rights from the other parent, giving you complete responsibility over them. You may decide whether you would like to change their surname which can be done through the adoption process,  and your stepchild will walk out of the adoption hearing with your name and as your legal child. Even if you and your partner go through a divorce, you will still be the legal parent of his or her child.  The adoption is not terminated or revoked just because the marital status is terminated.  You are officially the parent of that child once the adoption is granted!

What is a Parental Responsibility Order or an Agreement?

There are alternatives to the adoption order, such as the PR order or agreement, which enables a step-parent to gain responsibility for their step-child by court order or agreement if they have become the partner of the child’s parent. If someone’s wife or husband is the only person with parental responsibility for the child, they can formally agree to share that responsibility with you, however, if the child’s other parent also has parental responsibility, they must agree to this share, also.  This may be a great alternative to giving rights where rights cannot be obtained since there are already two parents caring for the child.

What is a Residence Order?

This kind of order names the individual that the child is going to live with on a daily basis. If one of the people named on this order does not have parental responsibility already, the order should give it to that person, allowing them to share parental responsibility with the child’s parents, without giving them the same exact rights.

In this particular case, neither the step-parent nor the parent will be allowed to take the child away from the country of residence for more than a month without permission from the court, nor will they be able to change their surname. With a residence order, a step-parent cannot decide on a guardian to care for a child should they die, and in effect, the order will give you some form of security and stability, but without the permanence, an adoption order allows.

 Minella Law Group Can Help!

If you need assistance with your stepparent adoption, the qualified staff at Minella Law Group can assist you.  For more information or to schedule an appointment, click the button below, or call us at (619) 289-7948. We look forward to helping you.

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Termination of Parental Rights: Voluntary vs Involuntary

The Difference between Involuntary and Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

As a parent, you automatically gain a certain set of rights. Your parental rights are the factor that imbues you with the responsibility necessary to properly nurture the physical and emotional well-being of your child. As a parent, you are capable of making decisions for your child where they potentially could not make an informed decision of their own accord, and these decisions should be in the best interest of the child in question.

These decisions could relate to a wide range of potential religious practices, beliefs, health concerns, and medical care and public, private, or even home schooling. Because you’re the child’s parent, you have the right to look after, raise, and teach your child in the manner that you see fit, so long as this coincides with the boundaries of the established laws. However, these rights do not necessarily have to be permanent; they can be terminated, either voluntarily on your behalf, or involuntarily through the order of a court judge.

Understanding Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights in San Diego

If your parental rights are involuntarily terminated, this will involve the court making the final decision that the termination of your parental rights is in the best interests of the child. There are various reasons why a court may decide that your parental rights should be involuntarily terminated, including:

  • Neglect of the child in question
  • Abandonment
  • Drug or alcohol abuse that would make looking after the child difficult or impossible
  • Abuse, physically or emotionally
  • A felony or conviction of a crime against children
  • The inability to emotionally, physically, or financially support your child.

In these cases, parental rights are not automatically terminated, there is still a process that must be considered, unless the parent has abandoned the child as an infant, or has been convicted of a voluntary manslaughter or murder charge, or has caused some bodily harm to a child.

Understanding Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights in San Diego

There are many circumstances wherein the voluntary termination of parental rights may be the best possible option for the child. Birth parents can voluntarily relinquish their parental rights when they place their children up for adoption, or hand them over to adoptive families. In this case, the adoptive parents will receive the parental rights over that specific child.

Furthermore, if any parent decides at some time that they do not want to be responsible for their child any longer, they have the right to terminate that responsibility by relinquishing their rights, or beginning the process for termination of parental rights. However, many states do require that any parent who requests to relinquish their parental rights must appear before a judge.

If a child is put into a foster care, this does not mean that the parental rights will be automatically terminated. It is generally up to the specifics of the situation, and the judge’s discretion, since some children can be temporarily put into foster situations until the father and mother are capable of parenting. If parental rights are terminated in this particular situation, the child can be adopted and is referred to as a ward of the state.

 Minella Law Group Can Help!

If you need assistance with terminating parental rights whether it be voluntary or involuntary, the qualified staff at Minella Law Group can assist you.  For more information or to schedule an appointment, click the button below, or call us at (619) 289-7948. We look forward to helping you.

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Terminating Parental Rights

Stepchild Adoption and Termination of Parental Rights in San Diego

The process of terminating parental rights results in a court order given by a judge which permanently severs the legal relationship between a child and parent. Typically, this process takes place when a court finds one or both parents to be unfit to raise their child, or when one or both parents decide to give up their parental rights in order to put their child up for adoption.

In a stepparent adoption in San Diego County, the adopting parent’s partner, and the child’s biological parent will retain their parental rights, but the legal relationship between the child and the other parent will be terminated.

A Concrete Transfer

Once this relationship has been terminated, that biological parent relinquishes all of their responsibility for and rights to the child, and the adoptive parent acquires these responsibilities and rights. Because of this, it is possible to regard stepparent adoption as the permanent transfer between two parties, of parental responsibilities and rights.

Once the adoption process for the stepparent has been completed, it cannot be nullified or revoked except for in very serious situations such as fraud, mental illness, disability, or legal defect. This means that if the stepparent and biological parent go through a divorce, the adoption process is not terminated.

How to Proceed with Adoption as a Stepparent

If you feel as though you would like to begin the process to adopt your step child, as a stepparent, you must be sure that you meet all of the legal requirements necessary. First of all, you, as the adopting parent, and the biological legal parent must be in a domestic partnership or marriage that has been registered within the state you live in.

If you are not partners with the child’s parent, there is a possibility that you will still be able to adopt through a process called ‘second parent adoption’, this is a more complex process that requires a thorough analysis of the facts.  The adopting, or stepparent, must be at least eighteen years old, and is often required to be ten years older than the child that they are adopting, but this requirement can be waived in some circumstances.

Acquiring Consent for the Adoption Process

One of the most important and complex steps of the adoption process is to obtain all the necessary consent. First of all, you will need to sit down and speak with your partner or spouse about the idea of adoption, and ensure that he or she agrees to it. After this has been established, you may need to get consent from the other legal parent of the child.

This can be particularly complex, and if you cannot get the consent required from the other parent in question, there are certain circumstances that may mean you are eligible to adopt the child as a stepparent anyway. For example, if the birth parent in question is unable to support or care for the child on an emotional, physical, or financial level, then their parental rights may be involuntarily terminated.

The biological parent can consent to the adoption and termination of their parental rights.  This will make the process easier as they will need to sign a form and the process is streamlined. There are ways to negotiate consent if there are significant child support arrears, they can be waived if consent is given.  Additionally, contact and visitation can also be agreed upon if consent is given.  Negotiating a settlement to avoid trial is best for everyone involved.

If the biological parent does not consent to termination, the court will have to decide.  This is done with a trial to see if the biological parent has abandoned the child as determined by the law.  There are different ways to deem that the child has been abandoned, the most common would be to show no contact or communication with the child for a period of one year.  An analysis of the facts involved needs to occur before filing a request to terminate rights to determine which method should be used.  This is a very serious process as the court does not terminate parental rights just because; the court needs to make decisions based on the best interest of the child.  You should consult an attorney to assist you with this request as there are many details involved.

The Child has a Say at Age 12

If the child in question is over twelve years of age, they must also consent to the adoption process.  If the child is under the age of 12, a social worker will determine if the adoption is in the child’s best interests.  Either way a social worker is assigned to investigate and meet everyone involved to determine if this placement is best for the child.  They will visit the home as well as interview all the parties involved.

 Minella Law Group Can Help!

If you need assistance with a step parent adoption and terminating parental rights, the qualified staff at Minella Law Group can assist you.  For more information or to schedule an appointment, click the button below, or call us at (619) 289-7948. We look forward to helping you.

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