Stepparents adopting a child within a blended family is a common form of adoption. However, the path for stepparents to legally adopt their spouse’s children is not always a clear one. If you are a Palm Harbor stepparent looking to adopt your spouse’s biological children, this blog is for you. Here is how Florida’s adoption law works and what a child adoption attorney can do to help make the process easier.
The Adoption Process
The process for a stepparent to adopt their spouse’s son or daughter has its own unique protocol. The laws for adopting in the state of Florida aim for what is fair. The state considers the interests of the biological parents, the children, and the adoptive parents. Just keep in mind, biological parents’ needs and rights are always considered first. The only exception is if a biological parent surrenders their parental rights to their son or daughter.
If the biological parent is not interested in surrendering his or her parental rights, there are two options:
- Accept it
- Go to court
In a contested case, the step-parent must prove neglect, abuse, or abandonment on the biological parent’s part to win. This can be extremely difficult. Having a child adoption attorney on your side can help. On the other side, a biological parent can lose their rights if they fail to protect these rights. An example of not protecting parental rights would be an unmarried father failing to register as the father with Florida’s Putative Father Registry. If he neglects to do this, the courts might not require his consent before approving his son or daughter being adopted.
Once a judge in Palm Harbor terminates the biological parent’s legal claim to their son or daughter, there is typically a waiting period of one month before the process can be completed. However, in a stepparent adoption, the process can be finalized immediately.
Another option available to stepparents is to hold a unified legal proceeding. This finalizes the adoption while simultaneously ending parental rights. This proceeding is common for adult adoptions, and a child adoption attorney in the Palm Harbor area can assist you if you wish to take this route.
Finalize the Adoption: Speak with Child Adoption Attorney Julie Beth Jouben
Once the process is complete, the stepparent assumes all of the rights as well as responsibilities of the biological parent. Kids who are 12 years old and up must provide their consent. The Judge will interview them, and the child must agree to the adoption before matters are settled.
Adopting a new son or daughter can be a complicated matter, so it is always a great idea to hire a child adoption attorney. If you would like some guidance or need a consultation, contact a lawyer in Palm Harbor by calling our firm today at our office or contacting us via our website.