San Diego adoption attorneys who can assist with a second-parent adoption
A second-parent adoption (sometimes called a co-parent adoption) is an adoption where a child born to or legally adopted by one partner is adopted by the other non-biological or non-legal second-parent (applies to heterosexual and same-sex partners). This is done with consent of the legal parent without changing that parent’s rights and responsibilities. As a result of the adoption, the child has two legal parents who have equal legal status in terms of their relationship with the child.
If you are not married nor registered as domestic partners, a second-parent adoption is the best option in states like California that allow it. It is strongly suggested that same sex couples pursue this option because if the couple travels to another state that does not recognize same sex marriage, the legal rights and responsibilities to the child of the second parent will not be recognized. Our adoption attorneys at Minella Law Group have many years of adoption expertise and will guide you through this extremely important and critical legal process.
Benefits of a second-parent adoption. Adopting as a second parent provides the child certain rights, such as financial support, health insurance, pension/retirement, social security, inheritance and other crucial protections for the child. If one of the parents dies or suffers from incapacity, the second-parent’s rights and responsibilities to the child will be protected, and the child will not become a ward of the state. The adoptive parent will also gain right to custody and visitation regardless of the relationship status of the partnership.
Child’s best interest. The most important part of any adoption is that the court must find that it is in the child’s best interests ensuring the child’s well-being and safety. For example, if the child is in a life-threatening situation where an emergency medical decision needs to be made, the second-parent adoption can actually save the child’s life because medical decisions can be made by the second–parent.
In an effort to look out for protecting children, the California Supreme Court in Sharon S. v. Superior Court (recognizing second-parent adoptions) found that “second-parent adoptions offer the possibility of obtaining security and advantages of two parents for some of California’s neediest children.”
Steps to a second-parent adoption. Domestic partner adoptions are treated the same as stepparent adoptions under California family law. The basic steps include:
- Consent to adoption. In order to proceed with a second-parent adoption, the first partner must consent to the adoption. The consent will not terminate the first parent’s legal rights to the child.
- Second-parent adoption petition. To begin the legal process, the second-parent files the adoption petition.
- Investigation of second-parent adoption. An investigator or social worker will meet with the child and domestic partners. The investigator will write a report and file it with recommendations to be considered by the court.
- Recommendation letters. It is a good idea to obtain support letters from friends, family, and co-workers attesting to the fact that you and your partner have a loving, secure home. These letters of support will give credibility to your adoption petition.
- Adoption hearing. At the hearing, a judge will grant or deny the petition for adoption based on the information provided by you and the social services investigator.