Tampa Stepparent Adoption Attorney
Tampa Relative Adoption Lawyers
All Family Law Group, P.A. has focused its practice in adoption to stepparent and relative adoption since 1997. The following is information on stepparent as well as relative adoption laws, birth parent consent, and terminating parental rights. Stepparent and relative adoption are easier to complete than other types of adoption, because some steps in the process may be waived or streamlined. For instance, the waiting period, a home study, and even the adoption hearing are sometimes dispensed with in a stepparent or relative adoption. All of the laws in Florida concerning stepparent and relative adoption apply to married same sex, LGBTQ persons.
One primary issue is that it may be difficult to obtain the other birth parent’s consent to the adoption or in the case of a relative adoption, both parents need to consent. If the other birth parent refuses to consent, the adoption will not be allowed unless that parent’s, or in the case of a relative adoption, both parents rights are terminated for some other reason — abandonment, unfitness, or failure to support the child, for example.
It may be difficult to obtain consent of the birth parent(s), because giving consent to the adoption means giving up all parental rights, including any right to visit the child or make decisions regarding issues such as medical treatment or education. Of course, some birth parents are willing to consent to stepparent adoptions because they agree that it’s in the child’s interest–or because they will no longer be responsible for child support once their parental rights are terminated. Nevertheless, there can be an agreement between the parties as to the birth or legal parent(s) having continuing visitation time with the child.
Speak to one of our Tampa stepparent and relative adoption attorneys today. We have vast experience representing 100s of adoptive parents in their adoption and we are dedicated to providing professional and responsive representation for our clients. Call us now at 813-321-3421 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your Tampa area contested divorce case.
Stepparent and relative adoptions can be complicated when the non-custodial biological parent(s) is still alive and continues to be in contact with the child after adoption. There may be no legal reason why the adoption cannot take place, but the emotional impact of the adoption also needs to be considered.
The impact on the child should be of primary importance. If an adoption will bring stability to the child and help your child feel more secure, it may be the right choice. However, no matter how well your child gets along with a stepparent or relative, the child may still feel conflicting loyalties concerning the birth parent and this may be hard to handle. Generally speaking, the less contact a child has with the other birth parent(s), the more sense it makes to do a stepparent or relative adoption, unless there is abuse or neglect on the part of the biological parent.
Terminating Parental Rights
If a birth parent refuses to give consent or is out of the picture and cannot be found, there are a few ways to proceed with a stepparent or relative adoption.
Proving the absent parent has abandoned the child. First, it is possible to go forward without a biological parent’s consent if you can prove that the absent parent has not exercised any parental rights or been in contact with the child. Most states’ laws allow termination of parental rights when a parent has willfully failed to support the child or has abandoned the child for a period of time, which is usually a year. Generally, abandonment means that the absent parent hasn’t communicated with the child or supported the child financially.
Proving the absent parent is not the presumed father. If the absent parent is male, another common way to terminate his parental rights is to show that he is not, legally speaking, the presumed father of the child.
Florida has statutes establishing who the presumed father of a child is in certain situations. For instance, a man who is married to a woman at the time she gives birth is legally presumed to be the child’s father. Another way of establishing presumed fatherhood is by marrying the mother after the child has been born and being named as the father on the child’s birth certificate.
Therefore, rather than trying to prove that the father has abandoned the child, you simply must show that he does not meet the legal definition of presumed father. If you can show that the father doesn’t meet any of the tests for presumed fatherhood, the court may terminate his rights and allow you to proceed without his consent. (If, however, the father meets one of the state’s tests for presumed fatherhood, you’ll need either to obtain the father’s consent to the adoption, or to have his rights terminated by proving abandonment, willful failure to support the child, or parental unfitness.)
Contact All Family Law Group, P.A.
If you would like more information about the gay and lesbian second parent or private adoption process, we offer a free consultation to discuss your options with an experienced Tampa stepparent adoption attorney. Contact our firm online or call 813-321-3421 and we will be happy to help. We have convenient offices throughout Hillsborough County and Tampa Bay.