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Governor Signs Cervantes Bill to Decrease Barriers to Stepparent Adoption

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO) – Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Assembly Bill 746 by Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona) into law. AB 746 clarifies that couples seeking stepparent adoptions are not required to be married or in a legal union for a minimum amount of time, or have a specific income or education level, in order for an adoption to be granted. This will ensure that California’s adoption laws guarantee equal access to parentage, especially for our LGBTQIA+ community.

Under current law, there are minimal requirements imposed on couples before they can seek a stepparent adoption. This leaves considerable discretion for county courts to impose their own, separate requirements. For instance, state law does not require that couples must be married, or in a civil union or domestic partnership, for a minimum amount of time before seeking a stepparent adoption. However, in some counties, courts have required couples to have been in a legally recognized union for at least a year before an adoption would be granted.

Current California law also does not require that a couple seeking a stepparent adoption must verify their income level or education. However, in some counties, couples are required to furnish this information in order for an adoption to be granted. Requiring this kind of socioeconomic information makes the possibility of discrimination against LGBTQIA+ couples, especially those from historically disenfranchised communities, very real.

“Much has been done in recent years to streamline the stepparent adoption process for our LGBTQIA+ community, but there is still much work to be done. Assembly Bill 746 continues our state’s pursuit of that goal by prohibiting courts from imposing a minimum time for a marriage or legal union, or demand information on a couple’s education or income levels, before granting a stepparent adoption. These requirements, which county court systems currently have the discretion to impose, hinder and prolong the adoption process for LGBTQIA+ couples,” said Assemblymember Cervantes.

While state law does not prohibit our county’s court systems from imposing these requirements for stepparent adoptions of their own volition, this discretion has led to a patchwork of requirements that hinder and prolong the process for many couples, especially those in the LGBTQIA+ community. Couples seeking a stepparent adoption must already navigate an unnecessarily confusing and complex system. This experience is made worse with local policies that differ across our fifty-eight counties.

Worse, this unfettered county discretion has also allowed some courts to impose requirements that frustrate the ability of LGBTQIA+ couples to have and adopt children, even after same-sex marriage and adoption have both become legal. In order to ensure that LGBTQIA+ couples do not face discrimination in any part of our state, a statewide standard is needed.

Ultimately, AB 746 seeks to instill equity in the stepparent adoption process. Couples in the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those from other historically underrepresented communities, are most likely to experience procedural barriers in seeking an adoption. These structural issues are in addition to societal discrimination.

“I want to thank Governor Newsom for signing this important bill and sharing in my commitment to remove these pervasive and persistent barriers, and make access to this most basic human right more equitable for couples, regardless of their sexual orientation. This is a big win for equality and for all California families!” Assemblymember Cervantes added.

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.