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Assembly Approves Cervantes Bill to Decrease Barriers to Stepparent Adoption

For immediate release:

Today, the Assembly approved Assembly Bill 746 by Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona) by a vote of 63-5. AB 746 will further reduce barriers to stepparent adoptions by clarifying that, in stepparent adoptions, the parties are not required to have been married or in a domestic partnership for a minimum period before the adoption.

Existing law establishes procedures for stepparent adoptions involving a spouse or partner who gave birth to the child during the marriage or domestic partnership. Among other things, existing law exempts those adoptions from the requirements of a home investigation and a hearing, as well as specified costs, unless the court orders otherwise. However, although there are no minimum requirements, some California courts require or recommend a marriage-waiting period, including that minimum times are recommended by DSS for stepparent adoptions.

“Families going through the stepparent adoption process already encounter a confusing and complex system with state and county policies that vary wildly from county to county. AB 746 will help provide clarity by prohibiting the imposition of a minimum marriage requirement for couples seeking a stepparent adoption,” stated Assemblymember Cervantes. “We must continue to break down barriers that hinder and prolong the adoption process for families, especially LGBTQ couples, who face pervasive obstacles in the process.”

LGBTQIA+ couples are most likely to experience barriers in the adoption process, such as broad legal barriers or negative attitudes by adoption professionals that prolonged or create legal barriers. Our laws do not prohibit courts from using their discretion to add a minimum marriage period, county-wide before couples can seek a stepparent adoption. The misalignment of explicit prohibition has led to confusion and ambiguity in practice. Continuing to have this misalignment has continuously hindered and prolonged the process for many families, including LGBTQIA+ families wishing parentage.

AB 746 will codify the elimination of a minimum marriage requirement into law that applies to all couples seeking a stepparent adoption and ensures that parentage laws reflect and further protect all families in our state. The bill was approved with bipartisan support by the Assembly and will next be sent to the Senate to await a hearing by a Senate policy committee. You can find more information about AB 746 here.

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Sabrina Cervantes is a mother who proudly represents the 60th District of the California State Assembly, which encompasses the cities of Corona, Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Norco, a portion of Riverside, and the unincorporated communities of Coronita, El Cerrito, and Home Gardens. Cervantes serves as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy.