How Much Does a Stepparent Adoption Cost in Florida?
Before embarking upon a stepparent adoption, you must evaluate all aspects of how this adoption will change your life and your stepchild’s life to determine if it is the right choice for you and your family. One of the factors that you should take into account is the financial aspect of the adoption process. What will it cost you to complete a stepparent adoption in the State of Florida?
Attorney’s fees are the biggest variable.
The law in Florida does not require that you hire an attorney to represent you in a stepparent adoption. If you want to proceed on your own, you have that option. Florida has pre-printed forms for adoptions and you are welcome to utilize those forms. If the case will be truly uncontested, such as in a situation when the biological parent is deceased, you may feel comfortable proceeding without an attorney.
https://www.flcourts.org/Resources-Services/Court-Improvement/Self-Help-Information/Family-Law-Forms2 When you represent yourself in a stepparent adoption, you are held to the same standard as an attorney. Hiring an attorney may provide you with peace of mind that all of the legal requirements for your stepparent adoption have been met.
If the case will be contested, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney. It can be extremely difficult to prove that the other biological parent has abandoned the child so that his or her parental rights can be terminated. Even if the other parent is absent, you must prove to the Court that you have taken all of the necessary steps to locate that person. An attorney can help you to meet this burden.
Attorneys charge for their time. The amount of time that must be expended to bring your stepparent adoption to a positive conclusion can vary dramatically, depending upon the specific facts of your case. Average fees range from $1,500.00 to $10,000.00, with the lower end reflecting uncontested cases and the higher end reflecting contested matters. Many stepparent adoption attorneys in Florida offer free consultations, at which they can evaluate your case and help you decide how to best proceed.
Costs incurred in stepparent adoptions
There are multiple costs involved in stepparent adoptions beyond any potential attorney’s fees. The filing fee for a stepparent adoption in Florida is set by the different circuit courts. On average, it is approximately $415.00. If you are filing a stepparent adoption for a sibling group, you may be able to adopt the children in the same case so that only one filing fee is necessary.
Florida law requires that a court reporter be present at all adoption hearings. The court will not provide a court reporter, it is up to you to hire a private court reporter. If the matter is not contested, it is likely that the only hearing will be the final hearing on your stepparent adoption. The average court reporter sitting fee for an uncontested final hearing is $150.00. The fee will increase if the Final Hearing exceeds one hour. If you need to obtain a transcript of the hearing, you will be billed separately for that as well.
Once your Final Judgment of Stepparent Adoption is entered, you will need to obtain certified copies of the Final Judgment. You will need these certified copies to apply for your child’s new birth certificate. You will need a certified copy to take to Social Security and your child’s school. The Clerk of Court will charge a per page copying charge as well as a certification charge per copy. Most parents choose to obtain at least 5 certified copies of the Final Judgment of Stepparent adoption. It would be best to budget between $25 and $50 for certified copies.
There is also a fee to obtain a new birth certificate for your child after your stepparent adoption has been granted. The fees for each state are different, but the average is about $25.
The good news is that Florida does not require stepparents to submit a homestudy in a stepparent adoption. Homestudies are performed to ensure that a potential parent can provide a child with a safe and secure home. It involves multiple home visits as well as full background checks on all adults living in the household. Homestudy costs can range on average from $750.00 to $2000.00.
Loss of Child Support
While not technically an expense of a stepparent adoption, when you and your spouse are analyzing whether a stepparent adoption is right for your family, you need to take into account the potential loss of child support from the other biological parent. A stepparent adoption will terminate that parent’s parental rights and their parental responsibilities. The obligation to pay current child support is one of the responsibilities that will terminate. If there are child support arrears, a stepparent adoption in Florida will not wipe out the past due amount, however all current child support will stop.
Contact Julie Beth Jouben P.A. for Assistance with Stepparent Adoptions in Clearwater, Florida
If you have questions about a stepparent adoption cost or need legal assistance with stepparent adoptions in Florida, contact Julie Beth Jouben P.A. today at our office to schedule a no-cost legal consultation.