Filing your California stepparent adoption doesn’t have to be difficult.

We understand that filing for a stepparent adoption is an extremely important time in your life. It can be stressful and the process can seem overwhelming. We guarantee that your California stepparent adoption documents will be accurate and that the court clerks will accept them for filing as meeting or exceeding their standards, or you get your money back – 100%. We can make this guarantee because we make it our mission to make sure our documents are complete and up-to-date with the newest court regulations. If we don’t make it right, we’ll refund your money – 100%.


California Adoption – Information you should know.

We know how important is it for you to do the research on filing your California adoption online. Our highly experienced staff will help you through the process. Please review the information below to educate yourself on filing a stepparent adoption in California, and then our staff will help you with any questions.


In California, the person filing for the stepparent adoption is referred to as the “Petitioner” and the absent parent is referred to as the “Defendant”. The petitioning stepparent will file the legal adoption documents that we prepare for you with the court. This will start the adoption process. An uncontested adoption means that the other parent is not going to file additional documents with the court objecting to the adoption.


Most of the stepparent adoptions we do for customers have one of the following circumstances:


  • The absent natural parent is deceased.
  • The absent parent has abandoned the child or children, by failing to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child(ren), and failing to provide financial support for the child(ren). In many situations, the absent parent’s whereabouts are unknown.
  • The absent parent believes that the adoption is in the child’s best interest, and agrees to sign a consent to the adoption.


Please note that if the other parent has regular contact with the child and pays child support, you will not be able to complete a stepparent adoption in California unless the other parent is willing to sign a consent to the adoption.


Where will you file your stepparent adoption documents?

The documents are filed with the clerk of the Superior Court in the county where you and the child reside. When the stepparent adoption is finalized by the Court, your adopted child will receive a new birth certificate, showing the new parent listed on the birth certificate, and also showing the child’s new name.


Prior to filing your Petition for Adoption with the Superior Court in your county, you must have been a bona fide resident of the state of California for six months prior to the filing of the petition, which residency must be stated in the petition and proved at the final hearing (Drivers License, etc.). If both parties currently reside in the state, then there is no time period required.


Grounds for the termination of parental rights.

The grounds which typically justify the termination of parental rights in a stepparent adoption involve abandonment, failure to support the child, imprisonment, certain abuse, and other grounds. The grounds for the termination of parental rights are different for each state, but all states accept the grounds of abandonment and lack of support, and some states include other grounds.


In California, if the absent parent is not going to sign a consent to adoption, then the adoption process will be a two-step process, consisting of the (1) Termination of Parental Rights, and (2) the Petition for Adoption. In California, the parent’s parental rights are terminated by filing a document entitled “Petition to Declare Child Free from Custody and Control”. The parental rights are terminated on the grounds of abandonment as outlined below:


  • The absent parent has abandoned the child, failing to offer financial and/or emotional support.
  • Receiving notice of the adoption proceedings and failing to answer or otherwise respond to the petition within 30 days, and the adoption would be in the child’s best interest.

Once the termination of parental rights is completed, then the adoption process will continue. If the absent parent is willing to sign a consent to adoption, then you will skip the termination process and just do the adoption.


It is not required to terminate parental rights of a parent who is deceased.


Visitation by grandparents or the absent parent.

Most states do not have any provisions for the visitation rights of the parent losing parental rights, or the grandparents associated with that parent. The State of California will recognize agreements for visitation by the parent losing their parental rights, but this is typically up to the discretion of the adopting parents.


California Superior Court: Address of some California courts.

Our documents are for the entire State of California. If your county court is not listed below, then we will provided the court information when we send your documents to you.


You must file the adoption documents in the Superior Court in the county in which you are filing. Some court addresses for larger counties are as follows:


Los Angeles County: To search for the Superior Court courthouse where your case belongs-


Orange County:


San Diego County:1555 6th Avenue, San Diego, CA. 92101 (619) 450-7888, South County: 500 3rd Avenue, Chula Vista CA 91910,


Kern County:Metropolitan Division, Justice Building 1215 Truxtun Avenue, First Floor Bakersfield, CA 93301 Tel: (661) 868-5393


San Francisco County:400 McAllister Street – Fourth Floor San Francisco, CA 94102-4514 (415) 551-3903, (415) 551-3913 or (415) 551-3900 General Information


Sacramento County:William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse, 3341 Power Inn Road Sacramento, CA 95826 (916) 875-3400


Riverside County Superior Court:Riverside Hall of Justice: 4100 Main Street, Riverside, CA 92501 Phone: 951-955.4600


San Bernardino County:(go to this link to locate the district to which your case belongs)


Fresno County Superior Court:1100 Van Ness Avenue, Fresno, CA 93724-0002 Phone: 559-488-2708


Stanislaus County Superior Court:Modesto: 800 11th Street, Modesto, CA 95354 Phone: (209) 558-6000


Santa Cruz County Superior Court:1Main Courthouse: 701 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Phone: 831-454-2020


Santa Clara County Superior Court:Family Court: 170 Park Center Plaza, San Jose CA 95113 Phone: (408) 534-5600


San Mateo County Superior Court:Northern Branch: 1050 Mission Road, South San Francisco, CA 94080 Phone: (650) 877-5705


San Mateo County Superior Court:Southern Branch: Hall of Justice and Records: 400 County Center, Redwood City, California, 94063 Phone: (650) 363-4711


Court filing fees.

The court filing fees for an adoption in California are $20.


Serving the absent parent.

In many stepparent adoptions, the absent parent may be willing to sign a consent form which consents to the termination of their parental rights and consents to the adoption. If the absent parent is willing to sign a consent this will make the process a little easier because the court will know from the beginning that all parties agree to the stepparent adoption. Many of our adoption customers don’t know the whereabouts of the other parent, or the other parent has such a disinterest that he/she just won’t sign any documents. In this situation, you will file the adoption documents and then serve the absent parent by one of the following options:


1. Whereabouts of the other parent are UNKNOWN: If you are unable to locate the absent parent after a diligent search, then you can serve the parent by publication. This means that a notice is published in a local legal publication. Typically publication is once a week for 4 weeks. The publication fee for the newspaper averages around $85, but varies depending on where you live. Upon the filing of the Affidavit, the clerk shall direct that service of notice be made by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the complaint is filed. We provide all the required documents for service by publication.


2.The parent just won’t sign, but grounds exist for the adoption: If you know the whereabouts of the other parent, but that parent won’t sign due to disinterest, you can have that parent served by the Sheriff’s department or a private process server. This can be done even if the other parent is incarcerated in jail or a federal prison.


Start your California Stepparent Adoption Today!


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