Adoption Rights for LGBT Couples
Same-sex relationships have significantly altered the practice of family law, and Florida is no exception regarding the significant statewide changes it will endure. While same-sex marriage was only recently recognized throughout the state, same-sex couple adoptions have actually been recognized since 2010. Specifically, a Miami-Dade judge in the 3rd District Court of Appeals found that there was “no rational basis” for the 33-year-old ban on adoptions by LGBT parents, thereby ruling it unconstitutional.
Before that, only one person had parental rights (usually the biological parent), with the other half of the partnership being unable to claim such rights. Wills have always been available as a tool to outline the legal parent’s wish to designate a partner to take custody upon the death of the legal parent. However, these could be disputed by the deceased’s relatives.
At present, while Florida Statute 63.042(3), which states that “No person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual,” remains “on the books,” the District Court of Appeals ruling supersedes it.
The Adoption Process as it Relates to LGBT Couples
There are currently three types of adoptions available to LGBT parents:
- Single adoption by a gay parent
Single adoptions are for those who are not part of a couple, but would like to be a “single” parent by going through the adoption process. A parent may adopt through Florida Department of Children and Families (“DCF”), or through a private agency. Going through the DCF process requires you to go through classes, several interviews, questionnaires, and a home visit by the agency to gauge your “fitness” as a parent. DCF is no longer allowed to ask a prospective parent about their sexual orientation. Private agencies come with less bureaucracy, but they are also significantly more expensive.
- Joint Adoption of Married LGBT Couples
Joint adoption is only available for married LGBT couples (unmarried couples are not allowed to adopt in Florida). This standard is the same for straight couples; only married couples may adopt.
- Second parent adoption
A “second parent adoption” describes the process of adopting the biological child of his same-sex partner (analogous to a ‘steparent’). A stepparent adoption allows a parent to take the legal place of one of a child’s natural parents, leaving the child with two legal parents who are also married. Couples will sometimes pursue this option when the parent who has raised the child has remarried and the child’s other birth parent has abandoned their responsibilities as a parent.
However, adoption does not technically remove the parental rights of the original biological parent. This option is best for unmarried LGBT couples because it would allow two people to have parental rights without technically being married.
Florida Family Law Attorney
Because family law is in a state of change regarding LGBT issues, it is important to seek the counsel of a seasoned family law attorney. Sandra Bonfiglio, P. A. is proud to serve LGBT communities and is available to help you with any aspect of your family planning and adoption issues. She is proud to serve the Broward County, Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale areas. Contact Attorney Bonfiglio online or at 954-828-9933.