Having a stepparent adopt a child can be a very emotional and exciting time for your family. It often signifies a complete blending of a new member with all of the family’s members. Stepparent adoption is also a good idea for very practical reasons as well, such as for family estate planning purposes or other legal or administrative issues. However, this exciting occasion can also be somewhat confusing. Below is a brief overview of the stepparent adoption process in Florida.
Evaluation of the Stepparent
Every adoption process in Florida starts with an evaluation of the proposed parent, in this case, the stepparent. The assessment determines if this person is fit to be a parent and legally able to adopt in Florida.
In most situations, the stepparent will be able to adopt. However, there are some limitations. If, for example, a person who has a physical or mental disability that prevents them from being an effective parent, that person will likely be unable to adopt the child. If the stepparent has a criminal record or history of domestic violence, there are likely going to be concerns about the process as well. Further investigation will be required to adequately vet out the new stepparent to ensure they are in the child’s best interests.
The Consent Requirement
A child can only have two parents. That means that if a stepparent is adopting, then one of the child’s biological parents must have their parental rights terminated. Termination of the biological parent’s rights or consent is necessary before the adoption can proceed.
In some cases, such as abandonment, it is not necessary to get the consent of the other parent for the stepparent adoption to move forward. If parental rights were previously terminated or if paternity has never been established, then there may be no need to get consent.
The other parent may voluntarily consent to the adoption. The biological parent may not have to give up all of their rights, such as visitation, if they consent to the adoption.
The Adoption Petition
You must file a petition to start the adoption process. Essentially, the petition must meet the legal requirements for becoming an adoptive parent. The petition will include general information about the family, such as their names and how long the stepparent has been involved in the child’s life. You must also include a section about consent, such as why consent is not applicable or that the other parent has consented to the adoption.
The other parent should be given notice of the petition for adoption. The other parent has the opportunity to respond to the petition.
Granting the Adoption
The adoption process is one of the most rewarding of Court proceedings. If you would like to make a child your very own, McKINNON LEGAL is available to help you. We believe every child is deserving of love. Contact us today to speak with one of our attorneys!