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Basic Introduction to Step-Parent Adoptions. 2010 California Conference on Self-Represented Litigants. Speakers : Lucia Reyes, Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center Malea Chavez, ACCESS Center, Superior Court of California, San Francisco

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Basic Introduction to Step-Parent Adoptions

2010 California Conference on

Self-Represented Litigants

Speakers:

Lucia Reyes, Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center

Malea Chavez, ACCESS Center, Superior Court of California, San Francisco

Betsy Lee, ACCESS Center, Superior Court of California, San Francisco


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Types of Adoptions

  • Independent

  • Stepparent/Domestic Partner

  • Limited Consent/Second Parent Adoptions


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Overview of the Adoption Process

  • Step 1: Adoption Request

  • Step 2: Home Study Investigation/Report

  • Step 3: Termination of Parental Rights

  • Step 4: Finalization Stage


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Adoption Request

  • Relative vs. Non-Relative

    • Role of the Adoption Services Provider (ASP)

  • Court

  • Filing Fee


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    Home Study Investigation/Report

    • Documents Needed to Start the Case

      • Certified copies of the birth certificates, marriage certificates/RDP, divorce decrees, death certificates, and Letters of Guardianship

      • DCFS Adoption Questionnaire(s)

      • Conformed copy of Adoption Request

    • Role of the Social Worker/Investigation

    • Fee for Home Study Report


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    Termination of Parental Rights

    • Consent vs. Court Order

    • Alleged Father vs. Presumed Father


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    Termination of Parental Rights (continued)

    • Family Code Sections most commonly used for Termination of Parental Rights

      • 7662 (alleged father)

      • 8604 (presumed parent)

      • 7820 (presumed parent)


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    Termination of Parental Rights (continued)

    • Identify/Locate Parent(s)

      • Due Diligence Search

      • Parentage Letters

      • Military Search

  • Service (Personal, Posting or Publication)


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    Finalization Stage

    • When are you ready to proceed to finalization?

    • How do you schedule a hearing date?

    • What to expect at the finalization hearing?


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    Step-Parent Adoptions

    • What type of case to start?

    • Has paternity been established?

      • Judicial determination

      • Voluntary declaration

      • Legal presumption

    • Parentage: Willful Failure

    • No Parentage: Termination


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    Step-Parent Adoptions

    • Initial Intake:

      • Important to get all information up front!

      • Intake forms, Declaration of Mother

    • Accuracy of information

      • Obtain copies of birth certificates, marriage certificates, court orders, etc.

    • Minor’s knowledge and consent

      • Minors over 12 must consent

      • Minor must attend hearing regardless of age


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    Step-Parent Adoptions

    • Citizenship:

      • Probation department forms will ask about immigration status

      • “no known status”

    • Service issues:

      • If need to serve by posting/mailing, schedule hearings further out to complete service


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    Willful Failure

    • FC § 8604(b): absent parent has for a period of one year or more:

      • Failed to communicate with the child AND

      • Failed to financially support the child

    • Paternity established

    • Adoption Request: mark # 17

    • Service by posting/mailing, schedule Citation Hearing 8 weeks out

    • Citation Hearing


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    Abandonment

    • FC § 7820 et seq: freeing a child from parental custody and control.

    • Proceed with Abandonment case if can only prove one element of Willful Failure.

    • Complex procedure

    • Extra interview with probation department

    • Court can appoint counsel to any party if necessary


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    Termination

    • Parentage has not been established

      • Alleged father

    • FC § 7662

    • Notice to Alleged Father

      • Father can initiate paternity case within 30 days of service

      • Father can consent (waive further notice)

      • Deny paternity (waive further notice)


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    Termination

    • Adoption Request: mark #16

    • Termination of Paternal Rights

      • Wait 30 days after service before filing Termination of Paternal Rights

      • If posting/mailing, need to wait 60 days

      • No hearing – File Petition and Order will be sent by mail


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    Service Issues

    • Personal Service

    • Service by posting and mailing

      • Must have fee waiver

      • Declaration of Due Diligence

      • Order may take up to two weeks

      • Service not complete until 28 days after posting and mailing

    • Service by publication


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    Social Study/Home Visit

    • Conducted by Juvenile Probation Department in San Francisco

    • Important for Court to coordinate with probation dept

      • Make sure case is forwarded to dept

    • Investigation Fee: up to $200 in SF

    • Complete all necessary forms


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    Adoption Hearing

    • Investigation Report must be completed before court can schedule Hearing

    • Step-parent, custodial parent and minor must attend


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    Tips

    • If proceeding by publication for multiple children with the same parents, consolidate the cases

    • All TPR proceedings heard at the Children’s Court in Monterey Park

    • Foreign born children must satisfy the Hague Adoption Requirements

    • Honesty with Social Worker re criminal record (Adam Walsh Act)

    • Consistency in names throughout documents

    • Terminate all possible alleged & presumed parents

    • Probation Officer Investigation with Independent Adoptions

    • Tax Credit/Exclusion with Independent Adoptions

    • Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up

    • New Birth Certificate


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    Contact Information

    • Department of Children and Family Services

      Independent & Stepparent Adoptions Unit

      3530 Wilshire Blvd., 4th Floor

      Los Angeles, CA 90010

      Tao Dam, Independent Adopt. Asst. (213)351-0162

      Raul Ortega, Stepparent Adopt. Asst. (213)351-0163

    • Juvenile Probation Department

      City and County of San Francisco, Special Services

      375 Woodside Avenue

      San Francisco, CA 94127

      (415)753-7582

    • ACCESS Center

      Superior Court of California, San Francisco

      575 Polk Street, Room 001

      San Francisco, CA 94102

    • Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center

      1557 Beverly Blvd.

      Los Angeles, CA 90026

      (213)482-1800 ext. 300


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    Helpful Websites

    • www.dss.cahwnet.gov/cdssweb/PG164.htm (CDSS Forms)

    • www.childsworld.ca.gov/res/pdf/ASPContact.pdf (ASP List)

    • adoption.state.gov (Hague Adoption Info)

    • http://travel.state.gov/law/info/judicial/judicial_680.html?css=print (Service of Legal Documents Abroad)


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