What Is The Stepparent Adoption Process In The State Of Florida?
If you are the stepparent of a child and you have been considering the idea of adopting that child, you will first need to ensure that you fully understand the adoption process. This article will provide an outline of the stepparent adoption process in the state of Florida.
The Effect of Stepparent Adoption
Pursuant to Florida Statute § 63.172, stepparent adoption has the following effects:
- It relieves the birth parents of all parental rights and responsibilities regarding the adopted child. However, this does not apply to a birth parent who is either a petitioner or who is married to a petitioner (i.e. the stepparent filing for adoption).
- It terminates all legal relationships between the adopted child and the adopted child’s relatives. This does not apply to the relatives of a birth parent who is either a petitioner or who is married to a petitioner.
- It establishes a relationship between the adopted child, the petitioner, and all of the relatives of the petitioner that would have existed if the adopted child were a blood descendant of the petitioner born within wedlock.
The Stepparent Adoption Process
In order to file for the adoption of your stepchild, you will need to adhere to the following process:
- Obtain the consent of the non-custodial parent. In order to commence the adoption process, you will typically need to get consent from the biological parent. Assuming that your spouse joins you in your adoption petition, this means that you will need to receive consent from the non-custodial parent. If the non-custodial parent objects to the adoption, you will likely need to consult an attorney to determine how to proceed. Fortunately, consent can sometimes be waived under Florida law. Specifically, a judge can waive consent when a parent has abandoned a child; when a parent has already had his parental rights terminated; or when a parent has been declared incompetent and is unlikely to get better. Additionally, the child who is being adopted must usually give his consent to being adopted if he is 12 years of age or older.
- File the adoption petition. The next step requires the stepparent to file a Petition for Stepparent Adoption. This petition is a formal request to the court to grant the adoption and transfer parental rights to the stepparent.
- Schedule the adoption hearing. Once the adoption petition is filed with the court, the stepparent will determine which judge has been assigned to the case and will schedule an adoption hearing based on the judge’s availability.
- Attend the adoption hearing. During the adoption hearing, the judge will ask the parties some questions to determine how she will rule on the adoption request. The judge will ensure that all of the required procedures have been followed and will determine whether the adoption is in the child’s best interest. If the adoption request is granted, the adoption is finalized and the stepparent will immediately acquire full parental rights to the child.
- Obtain a new birth certificate. Once the adoption is finalized in court, you can order a new birth certificate that will list you as the child’s new mother or father. Furthermore, any previous birth certificates on file will be sealed.
Consult an Orlando Attorney for All of Your Stepparent Adoption Needs
If you are a stepparent who is looking to adopt your stepchild, Greater Orlando Family Law can help walk you through the process. We have experience with several areas of family law, including stepparent adoption, child custody, child support, and visitation. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment to speak with one of our Orlando family attorneys.