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Step Parent Adoptions in Florida

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Families come in all shapes and sizes these days, and it is not uncommon for a married couple to desire that both parents have legal rights and responsibilities for the children. Here are some examples of families who may wish to consider step parent adoption:

  • A lesbian couple wherein one parent is the birth parent;
  • A gay couple where one parent is the biological parent as sperm donor;
  • A couple of any sexual persuasion who had a child (either adopted or biological) prior to the beginning of the couple’s relationship.

Benefits of Adopting a Step Child

When a couple is raising a child together, there can be a certain level of security and permanence to both couples having legal rights to the child. It provides a clear road map, should the biological parent die. It allows for both parents to be authorized to make decisions regarding schooling, health care, travel, and other important family functions.

Responsibilities of Adopting a Step Child

Adopting a step child puts the adoptive parent on the same legal footing as the biological, or first adopting parent. This means you have the same rights, and also the same responsibilities. If there is a divorce in a case where there was no adoption, the biological parent would retain custody of the child, and the step parent would have no additional responsibilities to the child. When a step parent adopts a step child, they are taking on responsibilities, such as child support, and potentially shared custody, should the couple later divorce.

Are There Limitations To Who Can Adopt A Step Child?

Yes. Where a step child has two biological parents, the former partner must be willing to (or have already) given up his or her parental rights to the child. This can either be a voluntary termination, or a parental termination ordered by the court. If the other parent will not consent to giving up his or her parental rights, it can be very difficult to have a step parent adopt a step child. There is, however, a very narrow avenue that may accomplish the goal. This is something to discuss at length with a family law and adoption attorney.

If I Am The Biological Mother, But My Wife Is Listed As The Other Parent On The Birth Certificate, Do We Still Need To Do A Step Parent Adoption?

Because gay marriage is an area of law that is new in the state of Florida, and many other United States jurisdictions, the safest route to ensure that both you and your wife enjoy full legal custody, with all the rights and responsibilities that come with it, is to execute a step parent adoption after the child’s birth. As recently as June of 2016, Lambda Legal argued in New York that “current legal precedents do not account for the myriad ways that people make families.” They further argued “that to consider non-biological parents ‘legal strangers’ to the children they have cared for since birth is not in the best interest of these children.” A step parent adoption will also lay to rest any questions about legal parentage in other countries.

What Should I Do If I’d Like To Adopt My Step Child?

If you are considering adopting your step child, it’s a good idea to have an adoption attorney assist you in the process. Because step parent adoptions can be very fact specific, an adoption attorney familiar with local rules and procedures can help the process go more smoothly. Contact Fort Lauderdale adoption attorney Sandra Bonfiglio today to discuss your family’s needs.

Resources:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View%20Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=63.022&URL=0000-0099/0063/Sections/0063.022.html

lambdalegal.org/blog/20160602_brooke-b

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