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Stepparent adoptions allow a married stepparent to adopt a spouse’s child or children. Per Chapter 63 of the Florida statutes, stepparents can adopt their spouse’s child or children in specific situations.
The process of a stepparent adoption is complicated; therefore, it is best to consult with a Florida family law attorney from Beller & Bustamante, P.L. to explore your options for such arrangements.
The Basics of a Stepparent Adoption in Florida
A stepparent must go through a legal process to officially adopt their stepchildren. First, the stepparent must determine if they legally can adopt the child. Typically, the courts require that the stepparent who is adopting be active in parenting, and married to the child’s legal parent. However, there are further requirements that complicate the process.
The court requires a Petition for Adoption. The petitioners include the stepparent and the legal parent of the child. In the petition, both parents must include:
- Child’s birthplace and date of birth
- The child’s new name (if his or her last name changes with the adoption)
- Statements regarding how long the stepparent has resided with the child
- Reasons for the stepparent adoption
- Supporting information regarding the step-parent and child’s relationship
The petition merely starts the process and is not a guarantee that the court approves the adoption. The opposing parent can contest the adoption petition. If the absent parent provides the court with his or her consent, then the court finalizes the adoption and gives the child a new birth certificate with the stepparent listed as a parent.
Terminating the Right of the Absent Parent
The courts strive to maintain a relationship with the child and his or her biological parents. Therefore, the birth parents have rights over the child regardless of how often they see the child.
Before an adoption can be completed, the court must decide if the birth parent has consented to the adoption, or if the consent is unnecessary. Typically, a family law attorney will seek out consent from the absent biological parent to make the process easier. If they cannot locate that parent or receive consent, the court must attempt to obtain it before they can legally terminate the absent parent’s rights.
When the Absent Parent Contests the Adoption
Fights can occur with absent parents. Therefore, stepparents must be prepared for a contest of the adoption proceeding. When the absent parent cannot be located or contests the adoption, a petition to terminate the rights of the absent parent (under Florida Statute Section 63-064) might be presented to the court. This petition to terminate only applies when:
- The absent parent deserted the child or abandoned them; or,
- The absent parent is incompetent and medically improbable to regain competency.
Speak with a Florida Family Law Attorney to Explore Your Options
The process of a stepparent adoption might be complicated, but it becomes easier with a family law advocate by your side. While our lawyers cannot guarantee a favorable outcome, we will work hard to assist you with your stepparent adoption. We educate our clients and walk them through the process step-by-step so that you are prepared for what lies ahead.
Call our attorneys today to discuss your adoption proceeding at 904-288-4414 or request an appointment online.