In some California cases, a stepparent who has been actively involved in the life of their spouse's child may want to adopt them. When a child custody order is already in place, granting the child's other parent parenting time and rights, the process may be difficult, however.
If a stepparent is able to get the consent to adopt from the other parent, the process will be much easier. If, however, the other parent will not give their consent to a stepparent adoption, the stepparent will need to be able to prove one of several things for the birth parent's rights to be terminated by the court.
A court may terminate the other parent's rights if the stepparent is able to show that the other parent abandoned the child. Abandonment may be proven if the parent has failed to contact or provide financial support for the child for more than a year. If a stepparent can demonstrate that the other parent is unfit, their rights may be terminated as well. In order to show this, the stepparent can provide evidence that the other parent is abusive, has addictions to alcohol or drugs, is incarcerated, is mentally unfit or other things.
When a parent has been granted rights under a previous child custody order, it may be difficult for a stepparent to later overcome that order so that they can adopt their stepchild. If the parent has failed to exercise their rights to see their child and has failed to pay child support for a lengthy period of time, it may still be possible. If a parent has become unfit since the original order was issued, it also may be possible. Since it can be very complicated, stepparents may want to seek the help of a family law attorney who has experience with such cases.