Step-Parent Adoptions in Florida

February 12, 2015

By DeLand Adoption Attorney Richard “Jake” Jackson

Florida law allows for an abbreviated procedure for adoption by a Step-Parent: normally you are not required to submit a formal Home Study to the court; you do not need to file a sworn statement itemizing the costs and fees incurred for the adoption; and you are able to file one Petition to handle both the termination of parental rights and the finalization of the adoption, rather than having to file two separate proceedings.  However, a Step-Parent Adoption is not always a simple process.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO FILE FOR A STEP-PARENT ADOPTION?    You must be a legal Step-Parent of the child to be adopted: you must be legally married to a parent of the child.  A boyfriend or girlfriend, life partner, or significant other who is not married to a parent is not a Step-Parent.  If the child was previously adopted, and you are married to the child’s adoptive parent, then you are a legal Step-Parent of the child.

IF THE CHILD LIVES IN FLORIDA, CAN WE FILE OUR ADOPTION IN FLORIDA?    In most cases, yes.  If the child was the subject of a court case in another State, it may be necessary to request the Court in the original State to relinquish jurisdiction to allow the case to proceed in Florida.

WHO IS REQUIRED TO CONSENT TO A STEP-PARENT ADOPTION?    Normally both your spouse and the child’s other legal parent are required to consent to the adoption.  However, there are many circumstances in which the adoption may be granted without the other parent’s consent.  If a parent has abandoned the child, or if he is deemed to have waived his rights under the law for other reasons, then his consent is not required.  If the child is 12 years of age or older, then the child’s consent is also required.

IS THERE A REVOCATION PERIOD FOR A CONSENT TO ADOPTION?    If the child is under 6 months old when the parent signs the Consent For Adoption, the consent is binding and irrevocable immediately when it is signed.  If the child is 6 months old or older, the Consent For Adoption is subject to a revocation period of 3 business days.  When a Consent For Adoption is irrevocable, it cannot be invalidated unless a court finds that it was obtained by fraud or duress.

IS NOTICE OF THE ADOPTION PROCEEDING AND THE COURT DATE REQUIRED TO BE GIVEN TO THE OTHER PARENT?  In many cases formal notice to the other parent is not required, either because he has formally waived his right to notice when he signed the consent, or because he is not legally entitled to notice under the law due to his prior conduct.  In other cases formal notice of the proceedings must be served upon the other parent.  You should review the particular facts of your case with an adoption attorney to determine whether  notice to the other parent will be required.

DeLand Attorney Richard “Jake” Jackson is an adoption lawyer with over 29 years’ experience handling adoption proceedings in the Central Florida area, including Volusia, Seminole, Orange, Polk, Lake, Marion, Alachua and Flagler Counties.  As a Florida adoption attorney, Jake Jackson is committed to the highest level of ethics and professionalism when serving the needs of birth parents and adoptive families.  If you have questions about adoptions in Florida, please call us at (386) 738-1111 for a free consultation.

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