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Should Laws Be Allowed to Treat Adoptive Stepparents Differently?

Should Laws Be Allowed to Treat Adoptive Stepparents Differently?

Sometimes, a stepparent will formally adopt their stepchild. Such an adoption gives the stepparent rights and duties in regards to the child that are along the same lines as those that a biological parent would have. However, sometimes, laws do come up which create legal distinctions regarding the rights of a biological parent and the rights of an adoptive stepparent.

Recently, in another state, an appeals court reached a decision in a case involving a challenge to such a law.

The state in question is California. The law the case involves is a 2006 law that created an exception to the state law banning grandparents from petitioning for visitation with a child if the child’s parents are married and both of the child's parents object to such visitation. The exception created by the 2006 law allows grandparents to petition for visitation in spite of the objections of the child's parents if one of the child's parents is an adoptive stepparent.

A couple which includes an adoptive stepparent challenged this exception, claiming that it is unfair to adoptive stepparents and unconstitutional.

When a lower court heard this case, the court deemed the exception unconstitutional.

The case then went to an appeals court. The appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision and ruled that the exception is constitutional. In this ruling, the court said that the exception's difference in treatment of biological parents and adoptive stepparents is based on legitimate and rational distinctions.

The challenging couple is planning on asking for a reconsideration of this decision.

What do you think? Should laws be allowed to treat adoptive stepparents differently than biological parents?

Stepparents here in Arizona who are considering a stepparent adoption may have many questions regarding what the process for such an adoption is and what the legal effects of such an adoption are. Experienced family law attorneys can provide stepparents with advice and counsel when it comes to stepparent adoptions.

Source:, "Court upholds broadening of right to visit grandchild," Bob Egelko, Jan. 31, 2014


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