ADOPTING A STEPCHILD IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY
Being adopted by a step parent is one of the most significant moments in a child's life. It means that for the step parent - sharing a home, and being married to the child's parent, wasn't enough - that the step parent wanted to fully take on the role of parent, as if his or her stepchild was also born to them, with the benefits and responsibilities that go with that. Stepparent adoption also provides legal security in case something were to happen to the existing parent, as without a step parent adoption the step parent has few guaranteed parenting rights. The information below is for those planning to adopt a stepchild in Los Angeles County. (If you live in Orange, Riverside, San Diego or San Bernardino County, please click here.)
Step Parent Adoption in Los Angeles County - How to Adopt a Stepchild Step-by-Step
To file an Adoption Request in Los Angeles County there are a few core requirements. You must be a resident of the county. The stepparent must be married to (or registered domestic partner of) one of the child's parents. And the child must be under the age of 18. (If 18 or over, it is an adult adoption, with different laws and procedures.)
Which Los Angeles County courthouse would handle my step parent adoption?
There are twelve district Superior Courts in Los Angeles County handling family law matters. All adoption cases, however, are handled only in the Edmund Edelmen Children Court, which is the county's central children's court. It is located in Monterey Park.
Does Los Angeles County Require a Home Study to adopt a step child?
No . . . and yes. A detailed home study, as is done in traditional adoptions (such as adopting a non-relative baby) is not required when you adopt a stepchild. In a step parent adoption there is an "investigation," which involves much less time, paperwork and cost. There are no required "home visits." The assigned agency to do the required step parent investigation is the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (LADCFS). Their fee is $700. The attorney will tell you about a new law, however, which allows the investigation to be done by a licensed private adoption agency, which is much faster (often taking only 3-5 months compared to 12-18 months when done by LADCFS. The private adoption agency that the attorney will recommend that you use only charges the same $700 fee, so you benefit without any extra cost.
What Legal Documents are Required in Los Angeles County to Adopt a Step Child?
A typical stepparent adoption will involve nine legal documents, but Allen or Randy prepares them all, so you don't need to worry about them. When you have your consultation with the attorney, he will tell you about all these documents so you know what their services include. Our flat fee for a standard stepparent adoption is $2,500 (which even includes the LA County filing fee. Details about our simple flat fee.
What Are the Rights of the Birth Father?
Birth fathers' rights are a very complicated legal issue, too much so to discuss in this limited space. The short answer, however, is that there are two legal categories of fathers: alleged or presumed. There are multiple possible ways to terminate the rights of an absent parent if they can't be found or refuse to consent. (We have an "Advanced Q & A" page on subjects such as this, but it is likely easier for you to learn the same facts during your initial consultation.)
Is a Court Hearing Required to Finalize a Stepparent Adoption?
Normally, yes, and it is short and simple. (The judge even lets you take photos.) It is a private hearing, so only you and your guests, and your attorney, attend. It is so unique as a court hearing that the judge will even pose for a photo with you when your adoption is completed.
Will the New Birth Certificate Change Our Child's Last Name?
A nice benefit when you adopt a stepchild is the free name change. You will receive an amended birth certificate. It lists the adopting step parent as the birth parent (in place of the absent parent) and allows you to change the child's name if you wish (perhaps matching the step father's last name).
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 very kind person, that we began working together - to this point where now I just send all stepparent cases straight to Allen. (When you complete the Stepparent Adoption Questionnaire, it goes straight to him - 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 rare 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 makes him one of 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.
It's easy to get started. . .
STEP ONE: Complete the short QUESTIONNAIRE, which gives Allen details about your case to fully advise you. He will contact you to schedule your free, detailed, 30-40 minute consultation which can be done by Zoom.
STEP TWO: When you are ready to go forward, Allen will send you his short and simple retainer. In most cases it can specify the flat fee of $2,500 (which includes all legal fees, the court filing fee, and office costs).
STEP THREE: Allen will prepare and send you the Adoption Request and required attachments within about 5 business days of being retained, then file it with the court and the process begins. Allen or He will continue to work with you until he appears with you in court to finalize the adoption, usually about 3-5 months later.