Adopting a stepchild in Florida involves several steps. It’s an important decision to make and one that families deal with every day. If you are looking for more information on legal adoption, you have come to the right place. We are here to assist you as you go through the process of making your family a legal one.
The following steps are to be taken to legally adopt a stepchild in the state of Florida:
- Consent: Before a child can be adopted, the non-custodial parent must give consent.
- Adoption Petition: This is paperwork filed with the appropriate court.
- Hearing: A hearing must be held before a family court judge in order for an adoption to be finalized.
- New birth certificate
When the Birth Parent Has Rights
In some cases, a birth parent retains legal right to their child. When this occurs, the court must assure that the birth parent has consented to the adoption or that the consent is unnecessary. An experienced attorney can help determine whether or not the birth parent must give consent to the legal adoption of their child. It should be noted that a child under the age of 12 does not have to consent to the adoption but it is required in most cases for a child over 12 to consent.
Birth Parent Contests
When a birth parent does not consent to the legal adoption of their child by a stepparent, an attorney may move to terminate the parental rights of that parent. This occurs most often in cases where the birth parent has no contact with or has not provided support for the child.
Termination of parental rights can legally occur when the birth parent has abandoned the child or when the birth parent has been declared incompetent. When the birth parent’s whereabouts are unknown, steps must be taken to locate the parent before the adoption can continue.
Filing with the Court
The first step in the process of legal adoption is filing a petition with family court. The birth parent has the chance to oppose the petition. If the birth parent does not contest the adoption, the process takes significantly less time. Once the adoption is finalized, the child will be issued a new birth certificate with the legal parents’ names.
After the Adoption
Once a stepparent has legally adopted a child, they become the parent of the child in the eyes of the court. The parent will have the same rights over the child as if the child was born to the parent. The rights of the absent birth parent or the birth parent who has given consent to the adoption will be terminated.
The adoption of a stepchild is a legal process that must be followed exactly. If you need assistance with adoption in Orlando or the surrounding area, our attorneys are here to help you. We know that you have questions and we are happy to answer them. Reach out to our team today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. We will discuss your unique situation and advise you of your legal options.