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A common question that we frequently receive is whether there is a certain time requirement that must be met for a stepparent and child to live together in California before the state courts will approve a stepparent adoption of that child. The short answer is that there is no time requirement for a stepparent and child to live together before an adoption will be approved, meaning that, at least in theory, you can begin stepparent adoption proceedings at any time. That said, in every stepparent adoption matter the court will examine the totality of the circumstances regarding the adoption of the child in determining whether to approve the adoption, and the length of time that the child has lived with the stepparent may be one factor analyzed in that process.

How Stepparent Adoptions Are Approved in California

If you are not the biological parent of a child and were not married to the child’s biological parent when the child was born but would like to adopt the child, there are a few specific procedures that must be followed before the adoption will be approved. One key aspect of the stepparent adoption process is that a court investigator will meet with you and review your proposed adoption situation.

This investigator may work directly for the court or be a licensed social worker or licensed family therapist. The investigator’s job is to collect relevant information about the parent, stepparent, child, and other issues related to the proposed arrangement and present a report to the court which will make the final decision on the adoption, informed by the contents of the investigator’s report. In general, the investigator is tasked with determining whether a stepparent adoption would be in the best interests of the child.

Again, there is no minimum time requirement for a stepparent and child to live together before a recommendation or order will be made in favor of adoption. While some California county family courts indicate that there is a preference for the parents to have been married for a specified period of time (e.g. 1 year), it is important to remember that this is not a mandatory requirement in any county and each case will be evaluated on its own unique circumstances.

An experienced adoption attorney can provide you with further counsel on how a family law court will evaluate your particular situation.

Experienced Attorneys for Your California Stepparent Adoption

Adoption Law Group is a law firm in Southern California dedicated exclusively to adoption.

Our areas of practice include stepparent adoptions, fost-adopt finalizations, agency-assisted adoption finalizations, adult adoptions, guardianships and international readoptions. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.