A step parent adoption legally turns "Stepdad" or "Stepmom" into "Dad" or "Mom". To a child, emotionally it means even more. Step parent adoption additionally provides legal security in case something were to happen to the existing parent, as without a step parent adoption the step parent has very few parental rights. The information below is for those wishing to adopt a stepchild in San Diego County.
Step Parent Adoption in San Diego County - Adopting a Step child Step-by-Step
There are several basic requirements to filing an Adoption Request in San Diego County: The adopting stepparent must be a resident of San Diego County (there is no minimum length of residency required); you must be married to one of the parents of the child (or be a registered domestic partner); and the child being adopted must be under age 18 when the stepparent adoption is finalized. (If 18 or over, it is an adult adoption (click here) and completed under different laws and procedures.)
Which San Diego County courthouse would handle our step parent adoption?
San Diego County has many Superior Court locations, but uses only two for step parent adoption filings. Most are handled in the Central Family Law Courthouse, but there is also a North County Courthouse in Vista. There is a required filing fee to file for a stepparent adoption, but (here) the attorney pays it from his fee.
Does San Diego County Require a Home Study to adopt a step child?
A detailed "home study," as would be done if you were adopting an unrelated newborn, is not required in step parent adoptions. Instead, step parent adoptions have what is called an "investigation," which is simpler and less expensive.
Until recently, the San Diego County is the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency was the only option to do the investigation. (Their fee is $270.) Now a recent law allows you to choose a licensed private adoption agency to do it instead - so using the benefits of the private sector as compared to a governmental agency, which tends to be much slower. For this reason the private agency option is normally recommended for speed and ease-of-use, despite its slightly higher cost ($700).
What Documents does San Diego County Require for a Step Parent Adoption?
Only a few documents are required, such as the child's birth certificate and your marriage license. The attorney will list them for you.
What are the birth father's rights? Does the absent parent come to the final court hearing?
There are two legal categories of birth fathers, "alleged" and "presumed," and their rights vary, but this is a complicated subject and will be discussed in detail in your free consultation.
The absent parent has no role in the final adoption hearing granting the adoption. His, or her, consent - or termination of their rights - was done before that hearing. The finalization is your special day, with just you and your invited guests in a private hearing.
What Legal Pleadings Does San Diego County Require to Adopt a Step Child?
Most stepparent adoptions require a total of about nine legal filings or attachments. These are all prepared by the attorney, however, so you don't need to worry about them. During your consultation these documents will be explained to you. Attorney's flat legal fee of $2,500 includes all legal services in a standard consensual adoption, even the filing fee and office costs. Please compare this legal fee with other law offices. Most charge much more, and charge hourly, despite having less legal experience in the narrow field of stepparent adoption.
Do We Get a New Birth Certificate Changing Our Child's Last Name?
Yes. You will receive an amended birth certificate listing the stepparent as one of the biological parents, replacing the terminated parent, and you can also change your child's name if you wish. (For example, it is common to change a child's last name to match the adopting stepfather.) In effect, you get a completely free legal name change without the separate legal filing or required "newspaper publication" that would otherwise be required.
What are your Qualifications and Experience?
Hi, I'm Randy Hicks. I've been an adoption attorney for over 36 years and loved every minute. But several years ago, as I got older - just look at all those wrinkles in my photo! - I started sending all my stepparent cases to my friend and fellow adoption attorney, Allen Hall, so please consider my information on this page as my introduction from you to Allen so he can benefit from my well-known Stepparent Adoption Center.
I met Allen many years ago when we were actually opponents on a contested adoption case. I was so impressed with him, both as a lawyer and as a kind person, that we began working together - to this point where now I just send all stepparent cases straight to him. (When you complete the Stepparent Adoption Questionnaire, it goes straight to Allen - independent from me.)
About Allen. Unlike most attorneys who go straight from college into law school, Allen has had a lot of valuable life experience prior to graduating cum laude from Thomas Jefferson Law School and becoming an attorney. He served in the Air Force, then was a police officer for ten years before being injured in the line of duty and forced to retire. He began his own law practice focusing on family law and criminal law.
Unlike most attorneys who never actually go to court and instead live behind their desks and do all their work behind their computer and phone, Allen is an experienced litigator who chocked up over 100 litigated matters in his first five years of practicing law, including many contested stepparent adoptions for the cases that have contesting absent parents.
Allen is married and is the father of three children. His daughter has followed the family tradition of Allen and his wife and is serving in the US Armed Forces. When not practicing law, Allen is active in his church and likes to coach youth sports.
Allen does about 75 stepparent adoptions a year, which likely places him as the most-selected stepparent adoption attorney in California. Allen is popular for his high ethics towards his clients, legal skill in this unique legal field, and maintaining the same low flat fee that I established when I created the Stepparent Adoption Center many years ago. Please go online and read his clients' glowing reviews in their 5-star Google, Yelp and Avvo ratings.
If you have a question about stepparent adoption not covered on the stepparent adoption page for your county, you are welcome to email a question to [email protected], but the normal first step is to complete the Stepparent Adoption Questionnaire to tell him more about your case and desires, click "submit" and Allen will contact you promptly to schedule a free, detailed 30-40 minute consultation to review the stepparent process (laws, procedures, costs, timetable) and discuss your case, via a Zoom meeting.
Law Office of Allen Hall
402 W. Broadway, Suite 1270
San Diego, CA 92101
It's easy to get started…
STEP ONE: Fill out the short QUESTIONNAIRE, and click "submit."
STEP TWO: After your consultation, if you are ready to go forward, Allen will email you his short and simple retainer. It will specify the flat fee of $2,500 (which includes the filing fee and Allen's office costs - so is all inclusive - and detail any possible additional fees, such as if there is non-consenting absent parent).
STEP THREE: Upon your retaining Allen, he will normally have all your initial required documents prepared and sent to you for electronic signing within just 4 business days, then start the court filing.