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Florida Adoption Changes Sent To Governor

A measure that passed the Florida House on March 2, 2016, and the state Senate last month, has now headed to the governor to sign. The proposal–SB 590–would effectively allow judges to place the best interest of the child above their biological parents in some adoption cases. Specifically, Florida is in a state of conflict when it comes to laws which require that the best interests of the child be placed as a priority, while at the same time, a separate law allows for private adoption agencies to intervene in open adoption cases, creating an inroad for the child’s biological parents to rise above what the court deems to be in the best interest of the child. In this instance, children may be placed in homes that their biological parents prefer instead of where their best interests are represented.

One case in Florida highlighted this dilemma, whereby a father in prison was able to cut off his child’s mother’s family and decide where the child was to be placed simply because his parental rights were not yet taken away from him. Of particular concern: a parent could adopt out their own child to someone who is paying him privately, or make other arrangements that could end up harming the child, for private gain.

The Legislation

The bill would specifically create an exception, removing the rights of biological parents to determine who adopts their children if petitions to terminate their rights have been filed and qualified adoptive parents have already been identified. In these particular cases, the court would be able to interject and make a decision based on the best interests of the child, overriding the interests of the biological parents if they are at odds. The bill would also protect the rights of foster parents who have been caring for children for years—where the child is in good hands—only to have those children abruptly taken from their homes. It would also  protect the children at issue by building in a transition period so that the child was not removed from the home and family they had become accustomed to within a matter of hours, potentially traumatizing them.

Specifically, the legislation redefines the terms “abandonment,” “abandoned,” and “parent,” as well as the circumstances under which adoption consent is valid, binding, and enforceable. It requires the court to determine whether a change of placement is, in fact, in the child’s best interests rather than whether that change is appropriate.

Contact Us about Adoption in Florida

If you are dealing with any intersection of family law and adoption, contact us for help. The law office of Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. can provide you with guidance and assistance through any family law or adoption case in the state of Florida. We serve clients in Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and surrounding areas.

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