Adoption is an area of the law in which a non parent petitions for a related or unrelated minor or adult as a child. This is a very complicated area of the law and there are many forms and technicalities. Adoptions are normally favored in certain factual situations such as step parent adoptions where all parties consent. The forms are very complicated and there are also service related issues to relatives which can be very complex. It is crucial to consult with a San Diego adoption attorney prior to deciding whether a guardianship [if the adoption is of a minor] would be first appropriate. In many instances, establishing a guardianship for at least twelve months is appropriate before petitioning for an adoption. Each case is unique and an attorney needs to be consulted before making any decisions.
Adoption of minors normally fall into three categories: step parent adoption, relative adoption and non relative adoption.
Step parent adoption is where a new spouse adopts the minor child of the other spouse. These are normally completed with the consent of the other parent. If the parent consents, then the procedure is more expeditious and may not require a litigated hearing. If the parent does not consent, then a litigated hearing would be likely to occur. Prior to the step parent adoption being granted, the parental rights of the other parent must be terminated so that the child is freed for adoption by the step parent. The consent of the spouse who is the parent must occur as well. There will be an investigation by the County of San Diego to insure that the step parent adoption is appropriate for the minor child and normally an Investigator and/or Examiner is assigned and in some courts in San Diego County this is done by a Clerk. The final step is a court hearing in which the Court approves or denies the step parent adoption petition. There are also cases in which a step parent will adopt an adult child from their spouse’s former relationship.
Relative adoption is an independent adoption and is a relative petitioning to adopt a minor. This is normally where both parents are deceased and a relative is asking to adopt so that the minor is now their child. Relative adoptions undergo scrutiny and examination as do the step parent and non relative adoptions and the Court can approve or deny any application and petition for a relative independent adoption. The Court’s favor placing children with relatives over non relatives however the relative must be an appropriate caretaker and have the appropriate residence for the child to live.
Non relative adoption of a minor is where the adoption is by a person other than a blood relative. This can happen in a step parent situation where the parent of the child [other spouse] is deceased and there are no relatives on that side of the family or there are relatives however the child would be in danger. Normally, for non relative adoptions, a guardianship will be established first. After a one year period, then the petition for adoption would be filed. This would give the Court a period of time to assess the suitability of the non relative adoption.
Contact Us Online or call us at 858-312-8500 in Southern California. Our San Diego adoption attorneys will be pleased to offer you a complimentary and confidential consultation up to a length of 30 minutes to discuss strategies and techniques to assist in protecting your rights and trying to obtain your legal goals.