Steps to take in a Florida stepparent adoption

Stepparent adoptions convey all the rights and responsibilities of a parent. When ready to take the step, make sure to obtain the proper consent.

According to 2010 U.S. census data, almost five percent of the 88.8 million children living in the U.S. are stepchildren. Blending families together or marrying a partner who already has a child often requires an adjustment period. However, it does not usually take long to develop a deep, loving bond with a stepchild.

After a marriage, the next step for many Florida families is stepparent adoption. This may be even more important if a biological parent died or was never a part of the child's life. It is important to note that an adoption does not terminate Social Security death benefits that a child might receive.

Adoption is a way to coordinate the last name of each family member. It also comes with all the rights and responsibilities of a parent. Adoptive stepparents have the rights to custody and time-sharing if there is a later divorce. They may also be liable for child support. Florida law balances the rights of all parties, but the rights of biological parents are primary until surrendered or terminated.

Consent from the biological parent

The first step is seeking consent, which the court will require in most cases. For instance, a birth mother would need to complete a consent form in front of witnesses and a notary. A father must consent to an adoption in the following situations:

  • He was married to mother when the child was conceived or born
  • He adopted the child
  • He filed an affidavit of paternity or was adjudged the father by a court

In addition, an unmarried father who signed an acknowledgment of paternity would usually need to consent. Children over the age of 12 and anyone with lawful custody must also approve.

Ensuring that the correct people have provided their consent can be difficult. There is also a three-day revocation window if a biological parent changes his or her mind when the child is over the age of six months. A form not filled out properly could mean delays in scheduling the adoption.

Seek the counsel of a family law attorney

After ensuring that everyone required will consent to the adoption, then there is the paperwork to complete. While the Florida Supreme Court approved forms are available on-line, errors can easily be made when completed by a non-lawyer. Filing documents with the court and a court appearance are also generally part of the process.

Adoption procedure is complex because of the rights and responsibilities at stake. When you have made the decision to cement your relationship through a Florida stepparent adoption, a family law attorney can help you reach the joyful adoption day with fewer bumps along the path.

Keywords: Stepparent adoption, divorce