Families are formed in all kinds of ways, one of which is through adoption. Adoption can help provide a loving and stable home for a child, while also resulting in a greater level of fulfillment for the adoptive parents. This is equally true for stepparents, so if you are considering adopting your stepchild, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced Fort Lauderdale stepparent adoption attorneys to learn more.
Types of Adoption in Florida
There are three main categories of child adoption in Florida:
- Agency or intermediary-facilitated adoptions, which occur when a child’s parents voluntarily give up their parental rights;
- Dependency-related adoptions, which occur when a court decides that a child’s best interests would be served by the termination of one or both biological parents’ rights; and
- Stepparent adoptions.
The first two types of adoption basically follow the same process, wherein prospective parents are investigated before a preliminary placement takes place. The third category, however, known as stepparent adoption, operates a bit differently, as the court doesn’t require a report, recommendation, home study, or waiting period.
Stepparent Adoption Procedures
In Florida, a stepparent is allowed to initiate adoption proceedings when the stepparent’s spouse, who is also the natural parent of the child, consents to the adoption. However, the adoption can only go forward if the child’s other parent consents to, or has his or her parental rights terminated. If the child’s other biological parents consents to the adoption, then the court will proceed with the finalization of the proceedings. This is pretty common in stepparent adoptions, with the child’s other biological parent often being willing to consent to the termination of his or her parental rights, as it will relieve that individual of the responsibility of paying child support in the future. Stepparent adoptions tend to be resolved much more quickly when both of a child’s biological parents consent to the adoption.
If the parent doesn’t consent, on the other hand, or cannot be found, the stepparent and the child’s other biological parent will need to initiate proceedings to terminate the non-consenting parent’s parental rights. In these cases, courts assess a multitude of factors, but are primarily guided by what would be in the child’s best interests. For the most part, judges won’t terminate the other parent’s rights unless there are allegations of abuse or abandonment, or that parent has no contact with the child.
It’s also important to note that in Florida, a stepparent adoption of a child who is over the age of 12 years old cannot take place unless the child also consents to the adoption. To demonstrate consent, the child will need to sign an affidavit, in which he or she confirms the relationship.
Is a Stepparent Adoption Right for Your Family?
Stepparent adoptions can play a key role in bringing a family together and ensuring that a child has the stable and healthy home life that he or she deserves. These proceedings are not, however, right for everyone, so if you are considering a stepparent adoption and have questions about the process, don’t hesitate to contact dedicated Florida stepparent adoption lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 to learn more.