File a stepparent adoption request with the court

Once you complete your forms, you need to file them with the court and pay a filing fee of $20. The clerk may give you a date for an adoption hearing if all of the other necessary documents have been completed, signed, and filed.

Before you start

Remember, there are certain steps to take before filing your stepparent adoption request. Be sure that you have taken the exact steps for your situation.

File a stepparent adoption request

  • File your forms

    Check the Find My Court page to find the courthouse in your county that accepts stepparent adoption filings. 

    At the courthouse, you’ll file the forms you filled out by giving the originals and the 2 copies to the clerk. The clerk will give you a case number and stamp the forms. The court will keep the original and return the copies to you.

    Some courts require online filing (called e-filing). You can find out if your court requires online filing by visiting your court’s website or by contacting your Self-Help Center.

    Yes, you can file by mail. Mail the original and 2 copies to the clerk. You need to include the filing fee (or request for fee waiver) and a self-addressed stamped envelope so the clerk can mail your copies back to you. Make sure to include enough postage. If you do not include a self-addressed stamped envelope you will have to go to the courthouse to pick up your copies.
  • Pay a filing fee

    You’ll need to pay a fee of $20 to the clerk when you file your forms. If you can’t afford the fee, you can ask the clerk for a fee waiver. You qualify for a fee waiver if:

    • You receive public benefits
    • Your income is less than a set amount
    • You can’t afford the fee and meet your basic needs 
    You may be asked to pay a stepparent adoption investigator's fee of up to $700 at the time of filing. Learn more

    As part of the stepparent adoption process, there will be an abbreviated home-study type of investigation. You can ask the court to appoint an investigator, in which case you will be required to pay up to $700 either at the time of filing the adoption request or shortly thereafter.

    Some people hire their own investigator because it can sometimes help to speed up the investigation process if the court appointed investigator has a long wait list. If you choose a professional to conduct the investigation and write a report, you’ll pay them directly. This professional must be one of the following:

    • A licensed clinical social worker
    • A licensed marriage and family therapist
    • A licensed professional clinical counselor
    • A private licensed adoption agency


    If you cannot afford this fee, you can ask the court to waive this fee at the time of filing the adoption request. You'll complete two forms—Request to Waive Court Fees (form FW-001) and Request to Waive Additional Court Fees (form FW-002). On FW-200, check item 5(e) Other. Write or type in “Court Ordered Investigator’s Fee”. If you hire your own investigator, you cannot waive the non-court appointed investigator’s fee. 
  • Get a hearing date

    The clerk will give you a hearing date and forward all of your documents to a court investigator (unless you indicated on your form that you will provide your own investigator).

Stepparent adoption

What's next?

Once you have filed your stepparent adoption request, the court will conduct an investigation to ensure the adoption is in the best interest of the child.

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