FAMILY LAW ARTICLES
In cases where families want to start the adoption proceeding process, termination of parental rights for the biological parent must be accomplished first. There are typically two scenarios where termination proceedings are necessary:
- Stepparent adoptions
- Independent relative adoptions
There can be various reasons why a family member or stepparent might want to adopt a minor child. Today’s post will discuss both of these scenarios to help you understand the process.
The non-biological parent would like to adopt the child in a stepparent adoption. Regardless of how involved the other biological parent is, it would help if you petitioned for the termination of parental rights of that parent before adoption proceedings can move forward.
The petition for termination of parental rights asks the court to terminate the other parent’s rights so that the new spouse can adopt. That is the underlying petition. There are also judicial council forms, which are state-mandated forms. In Ventura County Superior Court, local court forms are also required.
Once the local court forms are filed, the Ventura County Human Services Agency needs to perform an investigation. This is often an appointment meeting with the parents, the adopting parent, and the child if they are age-appropriate. The Human Services Agency then provides its recommendation in a report filed with the court. That report will recommend whether to terminate the other parent’s rights or not.
There is one thing to note in all child custody cases in this area. There are stipulations in cases of children of American Indian ancestry. Suppose either the parent or child has Native American ancestry. In that case, the appropriate native tribes must be informed of the adoption proceedings. They have their own proceedings for their tribes, which must be adhered to.
If there is the need to appoint counsel to the parents whose rights are being terminated, the court can do that. They are entitled to representation if they’d like it, but they can decline if they wish.
Court proceedings will take anywhere from three months to a year or longer. This is a standard time frame for this type of case. When the court proceedings are concluded, through trial or evidentiary hearing, the recommendation from those proceedings allows for the next steps in adoption.
Independent Relative Adoptions
In cases of independent relative adoption, there is usually an underlying guardianship situation. This means that the family member seeking to adopt has been caring for the child or children. Because this relative has been physically and financially caring for the minor(s), they have a basis for seeking termination of the parental rights.
In some cases, the relative seeks to terminate the rights of both biological parents. In other cases, they might seek to remove only one parent’s rights.
In the case of independent relative petitions, the California Department of Social Services performs the investigation rather than the local County Human Services Agency that handles stepparent adoption cases. The timeframes are still roughly the same for the proceedings.
Interested in Learning More About the Adoption Process?
Contact us today if you’re interested in learning more about these processes and how they can benefit your family. We’re happy to discuss your case and help you decide on the best course of action for your children and family.