Stepparent Adoptions

Mello & Pickering, LLP represents stepmothers and stepfathers who wish to adopt their stepson or stepdaughter. We also work with mothers and fathers who are willing to consent to or wish to contest the adoption of their son or daughter by a stepparent.

Getting Parental Consent

The California Department of Social Services usually prefers that a stepparent and a custodial parent be married for at least a year before petitioning for adoption. While your husband or wife will have agreed to the adoption, your stepchild’s other parent—unless he or she is deceased or a court has already revoked their parental rights—will have to agree to terminate their parental rights in order for you to become their child’s other legal parent.

If your stepchild’s other parent will not give their consent to the adoption, and you still wish to go through with the stepparent adoption, you can take steps to petition a court to terminate the rights of that parent.

You must prove to the court that the other parent has either not exercised their parental rights for some time now, has abandoned the child (emotionally or financially), or is unfit to be your stepchild’s other legal parent.

Terminating the Other Parent’s Rights

If the parent whose rights you wish to terminate on grounds of abandonment is the child’s mother, you will need to prove that she left her son or daughter either with the child’s father, for over a year, or with another person, for more than six months, and did not attempt to communicate with her child the entire time.

If you wish to terminate the rights of an absent father, you will have to prove that the father is not exercising all of the legal rights that belong to a child’s presumed father. Otherwise, you will need his consent before you can adopt your stepchild.

Mello & Pickering, LLP will assist you in filing your petition with the court to terminate the other parent’s rights. We understand that a stepparent adoption where both parents are still alive can be a very sensitive matter, and we will do our best to help you, your spouse, and your child get through this process.

Once the other parent and/or the court has granted your adoption request, we will help you file your adoption petition. Among the advantages of a stepparent adoption—as opposed to an adoption where the adoptive parents and child are not related by blood or marriage—is that the courts are very likely to streamline the adoption process or waive certain steps, such as the waiting period, home study program, or the adoption hearing. Attorneys Traci Pickering and Jennifer Mello will go through the adoption process with you until your adoption is finalized.

Consenting to or Contesting a Stepparent Adoption

There are many reasons why you, as a parent, would be willing to terminate your parental rights and allow your son or daughter to be adopted by a stepparent. For example, you may believe that the adoption is in your child’s best interest for emotional or financial reasons. If you have consented to the adoption but you would like to be able to spend time with your child, we can work with you to work out a Post Adoption Contact Agreement with the other parents.

At Mello & Pickering, LLP we understand that the decision to adopt a stepchild or consent to your child’s adoption by a stepparent is a very personal matter, and we will work with you so that you can make the decision that’s right for you and your family.

If you are a parent who does not want to consent to the stepparent adoption, we will assist you in contesting the adoption. If your child’s stepparent and other parent have asked a court to terminate your parental rights, we will help you contest this petition and prove that you have every right to remain your son or daughter’s legal parent. We have the skill and expertise to challenge the other party and assure that your parental rights are protected and upheld by the legal system.

Jennifer Mello and Traci Pickering are family law experts who will provide you with quality legal representation in your stepparent adoption case. Mello & Pickering, LLP is located in San Jose, California, and many of our clients come from San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, and Alameda County, including San Jose, Santa Clara, Campbell, Saratoga, Los Altos, Palo Alto, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Milpitas, Mountain View, Menlo Park, Pleasanton, Atherton, Hayward and Fremont.

We are offering all prospective clients a free consultation. Call Mello & Pickering, LLP at (408) 288-7800 or send an e-mail to

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