Families come in all shapes and sizes. Today, many children have divorced parents, or parents who were never married. Parents often remarry, creating a blended family. Blended families are wonderful, but sometimes a stepparent wants to become the legal parent. This can be achieved through adoption. An adoptive stepparent has the same legal parental rights as a biological parent. Adoption can make a family feel complete and create a loving environment for all family members.
A legal adoption must be completed through the court system. The stepparent who wishes to adopt the child is considered the petitioner and thus files the petition. In addition to the joint petition for adoption by stepparent, there are some other documents that must be submitted to the court. Consent must be signed by both parents. Once all the proper forms have been completed and notarized, if needed, a final hearing will be set. Legal notice of the hearing must be given to the birth parent. This can be completed through personal or constructive service.
Both birth parents must consent to a stepparent adoption, unless the other parent has abandoned the child. Florida statutes require consent be obtained from the child’s mother and father. The father must provide consent if he was legally married to the mother at the conception or birth of the child, he had legally adopted the child or paternity was legally established. In some cases, the parent may not be required to provide consent. In the case of an absent father, for example, the court mandates that you to make an effort to locate the parent to obtain consent.
The law requires that in cases of an unmarried biological father, the Florida Putative Father Registry be searched prior to adoption. This can be done only with a court order from a judge. You must file a motion requesting a search in order to get the order granted. However, this can be a complex issue and should be reviewed with an attorney to determine how to proceed.
Additional Adoption Information
In stepparent adoptions where the child is over 12 years old, the child is allowed input into the decision. Sometimes the child’s name will be changed as part of the adoption. If this is requested, name change forms must be submitted as part of the adoption paperwork. Once the court order is complete the stepparent is the legal parent and remains so, even if a divorce occurs at a later time. The records of the adoption are sealed and require a court order for review. Your lawyer will guide you through the process and ensure that all the proper documents are prepared in order to complete the adoption.
Help from a Compassionate Lawyer
The legal process to adopt is a complex one and is best made with help from a skilled lawyer. Each case is different and has a unique set of circumstances to review. You likely have many questions and concerns that can best be answered by your attorney. The decision to adopt is an important one and one that will have a life-long impact on the entire family. The Tampa attorneys at our firm are highly experienced in handling litigation of adoptions in Florida. Contact the Tampa divorce and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at [phone} for a consultation at no charge or email us.
By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+