The Process of Stepparent Adoption in Florida
The state of Florida has a compelling interest in ensuring that children have stable and permanent homes. Stepparent adoption affords stepparents all the same legal rights as biological parents, and can be helpful to families and children where one biological parent has abandoned their parent responsibilities.
However, the stepparent adoption process can be complex, and there are confidentiality issues involved, necessitating the need for an experienced family law attorney to assist with the process.
The Process for Stepparent Adoption in Florida
Like many other legal processes, the process for a stepparent to adopt a child begins with completing the required forms. The stepparent is the “petitioner,” however, Florida statutes require that the Joint Petition for Adoption by Stepparent be signed by both the stepparent and his or her spouse, and consent to adoption be obtained from the mother of the minor and the father of the minor if:
- The minor was conceived or born while the father was married to the mother;
- The minor is his child by adoption;
- The minor has been established (by court proceeding) as his child;
- He has filed an affidavit of paternity pursuant to Florida law; or
- (Where unmarried): he has acknowledged paternity in writing, signed in the presence of a competent witness, filed this acknowledgment with the Office of Vital Statistics of the Department of Health, and otherwise complied with Florida state law.
If the child is over the age of 12, you must also obtain a consent form from the child, although the court can excuse the required filing of this form under certain circumstances.
Once all of the required forms have been filed, you should check with the clerk of the court, family law intake staff, or the judicial assistant to set a final hearing. An experienced attorney can assist you in determining what kind of notice needs to be served on the other parent.
What If I Don’t Have Consent of the Other Parent?
There are also conditions whereby the court may not require consent to an adoption, such as when a parent has deserted or abandoned a child; had their parental rights terminated by court order; or has been judicially declared incompetent. In addition, if a legal guardian or lawful custodian of the person to be adopted has failed to respond in writing to a request for consent or is found by the court to be withholding his or her consent unreasonably, that may also lead a court to forego the consent requirement.
However, determining whether or not consent is required is a complicated issue necessitating the assistance of an attorney who understands this specific area of the law. The forms must be signed before a notary public or deputy clerk, and filed with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where the child resides.
What If The Other Parent Is Deceased?
In this circumstance, you must attach a certified copy of the death certificate to your petition.
Adoptive Stepparents Continue To Have Parental Rights in the Event of Divorce
This includes custody and visitation (or “time-sharing” under Florida law). You may also be eligible for child support payments.
Contact Us about Stepparent Adoption
Adoption can be an important process to complete your family and take care of your children, but it can also be complicated. For more information, please contact Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and Broward County.