If a presumed parent does not agree to a stepparent adoption

If a presumed parent does not agree to the stepparent adoption or otherwise sign a consent, denial, or waiver, the stepparent adoption cannot go forward. The only exception is if the court orders the child free from parental custody and control.

Refusal to consent 

If a presumed parent does not agree to the adoption, a stepparent adoption cannot go forward, except in certain circumstances. Refusing to consent may mean: 

A presumed parent usually had a relationship with the mother during the pregnancy and may continue to have a relationship with the child. They might not be the biological parent of the child, but they are someone who helped raise the child for a period of time and who the child recognizes as their parent.

If a person is a presumed parent, one or more of the following are usually true:

  • They were once married to the child's other parent
  • Their name is on the child's birth certificate
  • They lived with the child at one time
  • They have held themselves out to the public as a parent to the child
  • They may have provided support to the mother during her pregnancy and afterward
  • They have done everything in their power to raise the child and provide for the child

The presumed parent can also be person who gave birth to the child.

Moving forward without consent 

In this situation, you may only move forward if you have specific facts and evidence that the presumed parent:

  • Abandoned the child (either by not providing support or by not communicating with the child for over 1 year)
  • Neglected or cruelly treated the child
  • Suffers from substance abuse or mental disability as defined by law
  • Has been convicted of a felony which would make the parent unfit, as defined by law
In cases like this, you may ask the court to Free the Child from Parental Custody and Control (or FFPCC for short). This can be a very complicated process.  It's a good idea to consult with an attorney who is experienced in these matters before you move forward. You can also get help from your court’s Self-Help Center

Related topics

Getting legal help

Stepparent adoption in California

Before you start an adoption request

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