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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

Basic Introduction to Step-Parent Adoptions

2010 California Conference on

Self-Represented Litigants


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

types of adoptions
Types of Adoptions
  • Independent
  • Stepparent/Domestic Partner
  • Limited Consent/Second Parent Adoptions
overview of the adoption process
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
adoption request
Adoption Request
  • Relative vs. Non-Relative
      • Role of the Adoption Services Provider (ASP)
  • Court
  • Filing Fee
home study investigation report
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
termination of parental rights
Termination of Parental Rights
  • Consent vs. Court Order
  • Alleged Father vs. Presumed Father
termination of parental rights continued
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)
termination of parental rights continued8
Termination of Parental Rights (continued)
  • Identify/Locate Parent(s)
      • Due Diligence Search
      • Parentage Letters
      • Military Search
  • Service (Personal, Posting or Publication)
finalization stage
Finalization Stage
  • When are you ready to proceed to finalization?
  • How do you schedule a hearing date?
  • What to expect at the finalization hearing?
step parent adoptions
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
step parent adoptions11
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
step parent adoptions12
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
willful failure
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
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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
service issues
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
social study home visit
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
adoption hearing
Adoption Hearing
  • Investigation Report must be completed before court can schedule Hearing
  • Step-parent, custodial parent and minor must attend
  • 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
contact information
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


  • 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

helpful websites
Helpful Websites
  • (CDSS Forms)
  • (ASP List)
  • (Hague Adoption Info)
  • (Service of Legal Documents Abroad)