About Stepparent Adoptions
Panama City Family Law Attorney
The adoption laws in Florida are aimed at protecting the child, his or
her birth parents, and the adoptive parents during adoption proceedings.
Adoption is a serious matter for all parties involved for it determines
the future of the child because it permanently severs the ties with one
or both birth parents and it transfers the child into the care of a new
family or stepparent of whom they will rely upon for guidance and support.
In Florida, stable adults who are of good character and who have the ability
to provide for a child may adopt. Single adults and married couples may
adopt, and stepparents may adopt his or her spouse's children. An
adoption officially establishes a legal parent-child relationship between
the child and the adoptive parent, and this relationship is no different
than the legal relationship between the legal biological parent and their
child. In Florida there are four types of adoptions: agency adoptions,
stepparent adoptions, close relative adoptions and adult adoptions. In
general, stepparent adoptions occur under the following circumstances:
- The absent (biological) parent is deceased.
- The absent parent has abandoned their child, they have failed to maintain
a meaningful relationship with their child, and in many cases their whereabouts
- The absent parent supports the stepparent adoption and agrees to consent
to the adoption.
It's important to note that if the child's other biological parent
is paying child support and maintains regular contact with his or her
child; you will not be able to complete a stepparent adoption unless the
other parent agrees to consent to the adoption.
Terminating Parental Rights
In order for a court to approve a Florida stepparent adoption, it must
receive proof that it is in the child's best interests to terminate
the biological relationship permanently. The natural parent may voluntarily
consent to the adoption and surrender his or her rights to their child,
or alternatively, the court must see proof that the natural parent abused,
abandoned, or neglected or failed to protect their parental rights.
In Florida, an unmarried biological father is required to register his
paternity with Florida's Putative Father Registry, and if he does
not, then the court will not require his consent before completing an
adoption plan. Once an unmarried biological father receives the Notice
of Intended Adoption Plan, he has 30 days from the date of service to
register his paternity. In a stepparent adoption, the court is required
to serve a known and locatable unmarried biological father with a Notice
of Intended Adoption plan; this document will advise him of Florida's
Putative Father Registry and the steps he must take to avoid default,
as well as the waiver of any claim of rights to his child.
Once the court has issued a judgment terminating the biological parent's
rights to their child, then the stepparent is eligible to finalize their
adoption right away. The stepparent also has the option of proceeding
in a unified legal process where the order finalizing the adoption simultaneously
terminates the parental rights. Stepparent adoptions are standard when
the biological parent is willing to give up their parental rights to the
stepparent. With stepparent adoptions, when the child is age twelve or
older, the child must give their consent to the adoption, and they must
be interviewed before they give their consent.
Once the adoption has been granted at the final hearing, the stepparent
will assume parental rights and responsibilities towards the child, with
the other birth parent's parental rights terminated. Usually, the
child's last name will be changed to match the family; the new information
will be registered with the vital statistics office where the child was
born, and a new birth certificate will be created listing the stepparent
as the child's birth parent, and the child's original birth certificate
will not be available to anyone in the future. Once the new birth certificate
has been crated, a new social security number will be issued.
Contact Seaton Law Offices, P.A. for Adoption Help
The adoption process is complicated and the Florida Bar strongly recommends
getting the advice of a Panama City
family law attorney before contemplating any type of an adoption. Stepparent adoption
is a very rewarding experience for both parent and child, and at Seaton
Law Offices, P.A., we are here to inform you of your rights and responsibilities
and provide you with in-depth answers to all of your questions regarding
stepparent adoption. For reliable advice you can trust,
give us a call today.