Monday, October 29, 2012

Stepparent Adoption

In California there is a streamline process for stepparent adoptions. If you have the biological parent's consent then the process can be fairly simple. If you do not have their consent it becomes a lot more difficult. You will need the court to rule in your favor. The easiest way to do that is to show that the other biological parent has abandoned the child. This is defined as not communicating OR supporting the child within the past year. If that is the case, the judge will often rule in your favor. If not the case, the stepparent will likely not be able to adopt the child.

Additionally, keep in mind that if the stepparent does in fact adopt the child that in the eyes of the law they are a parent with all rights to support, visitation, etc after a divorce or death. The biological parent's rights are essentially terminated and the stepparent steps into their place.

Monday, October 15, 2012

730 Evaluations - Required in Most Move Aways

Sometimes the court looks at all of the evidence and still does not feel that they can truly determine the best interest of the child. Due to the need for more information, they order a 730 Evaluation. A marriage and family therapist who has does some other special training and approved by your county  courts will meet with both parents, the child, and anyone else that they deem necessary (teachers, half siblings, doctors, etc). They will also review report cards, letters from friends, medical records, and any other pertinent documents.

Although a wonderful way to ensure that the child is met with and all of the information is on the table, these can be incredibly expensive. If you can get a focused evaluation - meaning they look at just the move away and not custody as a whole (or whatever other issue you have in front of the court) you can usually find a flat fee of about 3,000-5,000. If you do an ENTIRE evaluation they can cost 10k-20k.

Due to the cost people try to avoid them wherever possible. However the court and mediators if you are in a recommending county, can request one if they feel that it is needed.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Sometimes people who have filed for divorce consider reconciliation. Some of these end up being long term and some of these reconciliations fall apart again a few months later. If you have filed all of your paperwork with the court and now are deciding to reconcile, instead of dismissing the case immediately, I would suggest that you and your partner enter into a Stipulated Order that basically puts the case on hold for the time being, but gives you until a certain date (usually a year) to reinstate the case without having to completely refile all of your paperwork from the beginning.

You do not want to just do nothing and let your case sit -- this is especially true if you are in a situation that may result in a default judgment, or if you filed an agreement or order that the court may sign within 6 months. It also can make things murky since CA is a community property state.  Talk to an experienced family law attorney about filing the correct paperwork to put your case on hold until you can determine that your reconciliation is forever.