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rights of birth parents

This section answers common questions about the rights of the birth parents (also called biological parents).

Click on a topic to learn more:

  1. What should I do if I get served a Notice of Alleged Paternity?
  2. What if my child has been living with someone else for over one year and now they want to adopt my child?
  3. Can I visit my child after the adoption?
  4. What if my spouse has a child from a previous marriage (or relationship) and I have been like a parent to this child and I now want to adopt him/her?
  5. What if my ex-spouse has a child from our marriage and now s/he and the new spouse want to adopt him/her?
  6. I have been taking care of my grandchild for several months. I am afraid that his/her parents may show up and take my grandchild away. Do I need to file for guardianship or adoption?
  7. Do the parental rights of the biological parents have to be ended in every adoption?
  8. How do I end the parental rights of the mother?
  9. How do I end the parental rights of the father or presumed father who was married to the mother?
  10. How do I end the parental rights of the father or alleged father who was not married to the mother?
  11. Other adoption information at this site
  1. What should I do if I get served a Notice of Alleged Paternity?

    A Notice of Alleged Paternity is to tell you that the other parent says you are the father of the child and that your parental rights will end if you don't file court papers in 30 days.

    If you think you are the father of the child in the Notice and you do not want the child to be adopted, you must act quickly to contest the adoption. Ask a lawyer for help.You can find a probate lawyer from the membership list of the Silicon Valley Bar Association’s website . You can also get a referral to a lawyer from the Santa Clara County Bar Association . Their phone number is 408-971-6822 . If you don’t have enough money to hire a lawyer, you can ask the Court to give you a lawyer.

    If you were married to the mother of the child in the Notice, you may have rights not listed in the Notice. Ask a lawyer for help as soon as possible. You will have to file papers with the Court and you must serve a copy of the papers on the person who served you with the Notice of Alleged Paternity.

    If you think you are not the father of the child in the Notice and/or you do not oppose the adoption, you don’t need to do anything. The Court will probably end your parental rights after 30 days.

  2. What if my child has been living with someone else for over one year and now they want to adopt my child?

    If you do not want your child to be adopted and you have not had contact with your child for over a year, you must act quickly to contest the adoption. Ask a lawyer for help. If you don’t have enough money to hire a lawyer, you can ask the Court to give you a lawyer.

    You must file a written objection to inform the prospective adoptive parents, their lawyer and the Court that you do not agree with the adoption.

    A social worker may contact you to see if you will sign a consent form, or the adoptive parents may try to end your parental rights.

    If you agree to the adoption, you can sign a Consent to the Adoption. A Social Worker must be there when you sign the Consent.

  3. Can I visit my child after the adoption?

    If you and the adoptive parents agree, you can sign a Post Adoption Contact Agreement (Judicial Council Form Adopt-310 ) that allows you contact with the child while the child is growing up.

  4. What if my spouse has a child from a previous marriage (or relationship) and I have been like a parent to this child and I now want to adopt him/her?

    You need the other parent’s consent. If the other parent does not agree to the adoption, the adoption cannot go forward unless the other parent is an alleged father or you can prove that the other parent has abandoned the child.

    Ask a lawyer for help.

  5. What if my ex-spouse has a child from our marriage and now s/he and the new spouse want to adopt him/her?

    They cannot adopt your child without your consent. But, if you have not had contact or supported your child for more than a year, the new spouse can ask the Court to end your parental rights.

    If that happens, they must serve you with a copy of the court papers. If they cannot locate you, they must publish a notice in a newspaper.

    Ask a lawyer for help as soon as possible.

  6. I have been taking care of my grandchild for several months. I am afraid that his/her parents may show up and take my grandchild away. Do I need to file for guardianship or adoption?

    In a probate guardianship, the Court usually suspends – but does not end the rights of the parents. As guardian you would have custody and care for the child until one of the following things happens:

    To be a probate guardian to a child, you have to fill out forms and give information to the Court.

    For more information on probate guardianships:

    In an adoption, the parents either sign a consent to the adoption or the Court ends the rights of the biological parents.

    This process is explained above. Talk to a lawyer to learn more about your options.

    What if I want to be able to visit my grandchild and the parents may not allow it?

  7. Do the parental rights of the biological parents have to be ended in every adoption?

    Yes. The only exception is for adult adoptions.

  8. How do I end the parental rights of the mother?

    If the mother will not give her written consent to the adoption (or if she does not give up the child for adoption), the adoption cannot move forward unless the Court ends her parental rights.

    You must file a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights. The most common reason for a judge to end the mother's parental rights is that she has abandoned the child.

    Abandonment is when a mother leaves her child with anyone who is not the father for 6 months or more, or when she leaves the child with the father for 1 year or more, with little or no communication with the child.

    A judge may also consider failure to pay child support as an intent to abandon a child.

    There are other reasons that a judge will end the mother’s parental rights, including habitual drug use or a felony conviction.

    The Court will not end a Mother’s parental rights unless it finds clear and convincing evidence. (This is the highest possible proof in a civil case.)

  9. How do I end the parental rights of the father or presumed father who was married to the mother?

    Read about how to end the parental rights of the mother above. It is the same procedure.

  10. How do I end the parental rights of the father or alleged father who was not married to the mother?

    An alleged father must be served with a Notice of Alleged Paternity. Get help from a lawyer to fill out and serve this form. The father has 30 days after getting the Notice, or after the child is born, whichever is later to file court papers. If he does not do this, after being properly served, the Court can end his parental rights.

    Even if the alleged father files court papers, the Court can still end his rights and allow the adoption to proceed if the judge finds the adoption is in the child’s best interest.

  11. Other adoption information at this site:

© 2014 Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara