One of the great things about living in a modern world is that people can do so many things on their own. American residents now have the ability to address even complex legal matters without having to hire an attorney. While this do-it-yourself approach is beneficial for citizens and for busy family law courts, going it alone is not always the best decision.
Adoption is one area of family law that benefits from the knowledge a lawyer can provide. Although adopting a stepchild is typically easier than other adoptions, there may still be obstacles to overcome. For example, if the child's other biological parent is alive and has his or her parental rights intact, you must acquire consent from this parent in the state of California. This is something with which an attorney can provide assistance.
Expanding on the example above, if the biological parent withholds consent, your spouse may wish to terminate the other parent's rights so that the adoption can proceed. Traditionally, family law courts take the termination of parental rights very seriously. This means that your spouse must prove why severing the other parent's rights is in the best interests of the child. Because you wish to adopt your spouse's child, you may or may not play a role in this endeavor.
To sum up, you are not legally required to retain an attorney to adopt your stepchild. However, doing so may make the process of stepchild adoption easier and faster. In the end, working with a family law attorney might even reduce expenses by avoiding a long and drawn out adoption process. This will benefit the child and your entire family.
Source: FindLaw, "Stepparent Adoption FAQ's," accessed March 22, 2018