When a step parent makes the decision to adopt their step child, it is one of the most significant moments in that child's life, even if he or she isn't old enough to fully to understand it at the moment. Step parent adoption means that sharing a home, and being married to the child's parent, wasn't enough for the step parent - that he or she wanted to fully and legally take on the role of parent, as if the child was born to him or her, with the benefits and responsibilities that go with that. It also provides legal security in case something were to happen to the existing parent, as without a step parent adoption the step parent has few guaranteed parenting rights. The information below is for those wishing to do a stepparent adoption in San Bernardino County.
Step Parent Adoption in San Bernardino County - Adopting a Step child Step-by-Step
Below you will find answers to common questions about adopting a step child in San Bernardino County. There are a few initial requirements: you must live in the county; the step parent must be married to one of the child's parents (or be a registered domestic partner); and the child must be under the age of 18. If the child is over 18 it is an adult adoption, completed via different laws and procedures.
Which San Bernardino County courthouse handles step parent adoptions?
There are many Superior Court locations in San Bernardino County, but most step parent adoptions are handled in the County's Central Courthouse. The filing fee for an Adoption Request is $20.
What Documents Will San Bernardino County require for a Step Parent Adoption?
Randy will give you a list of the documents you will need, but they are easy to obtain if you don't already have them (the child's birth certificate, your marriage license, et cetera).
Does San Bernardino County require a Home Study to adopt a step child?
No . . . and yes. A detailed home study, as is done in traditional adoptions (such as adopting a non-relative baby) is not required in a step parent adoption. In a step parent adoption there is an "investigation," not a home study. This is a shorter, simpler and less expensive process."
The assigned agency to do the required step parent investigation is the San Bernardino County Department of Children and Family Services. Their fee is $700. Randy will tell you about a new law which gives you the option of having the investigation done by a private adoption agency for the same fee, but much faster, usually completing the adoption within 3-4 months.
What Legal Pleadings Must Be Prepared to Adopt a Step Child in San Bernardino County?
The process starts with Randy preparing the Adoption Request, one of nine pleadings normally filed in a step parent adoption. Randy will review them with you in your consultation. In a standard step parent adoption where the absent parent in consenting is a flat fee of $1,500.
Will a New Birth Certificate Be Created to Change Our Child's Last Name?
An amended birth certificate will be created, allowing you to list the adopting step parent as a birth parent, and changing the child's name (perhaps changing the last name to match that of the stepfather).
What Are the rights of the Birth Father?
Birth fathers' rights are too complicated an area of law to discuss in this limited space and is best saved for your phone consultation with Randy. The short answer, however, is that there are two legal categories of fathers: alleged or presumed. There are multiple possible ways to terminate the rights of an absent parent if they can't be found or will not consent. (Randy has an "advanced Q & A" page on subjects such as this, but it is likely easier for you to learn the same facts during your initial consultation.)
Is a trial required to grant a stepparent adoption?
Trials are only needed in contested actions. The typical step parent adoption is granted in a very casual and private hearing, to which you can even invite your friends. It is so casual you can even take photographs during the proceeding. Randy attends the hearing with you and you leave court with a certified copy of the Adoption Order.
What are Randy's Qualifications as a step parent adoption attorney?
Randy has limited his practice to adoption for 33 years. He is a member of the California Academy of Adoption Lawyers, has a five star client rating on Avvo, an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, is profiled on Wikipedia, has an "AV - preeminent" rating by Martindale-Hubbell (the highest possible rating and earned by less than 3% of attorneys nationwide), is a frequent TV expert on adoption, and has authored several adoption books, including STEP PARENTING: 50 One-Minute DOs & DON'Ts, one of Amazon's most popular books in the "step parenting books" category. Verify Randy's credentials and read client reviews.
Stepparent Adoption Center
11801 Pierce Street #200
Riverside, CA 92505
It's easy to get started. . .
STEP ONE: You are welcome to call Randy to get briefly acquainted (951-787-8300). He will be happy to answer a question or two. For a full consultation, however (about 30 minutes), you need to first fill out a short questionnaire, which gives him details about your case to fully advise you. The consultation is free and can be by phone or in person.
STEP TWO: Randy will email you his short and simple retainer. In most cases he can specify the flat fee of $1,500 (which includes the filing fee and all costs - so is all inclusive).
STEP THREE: Randy will prepare and send you the Adoption Request and required attachments within 1-2 days of being retained. He will then file it with the court and the process begins. He will continue to work with you until he appears with you in court to finalize the adoption, usually about 3 months later.
11801 Pierce Street #200 • Riverside, CA 92505 • 951-787-8300