If a stepparent is an important figure in a child’s life, it’s only natural for the biological parent to think about adoption. Perhaps the other biological parent has never been an integral part of the child’s life or, for whatever reason, their parental rights have been terminated. It might make sense for the stepparent to take on the responsibilities of a legal parent to the child. If this is something you have been considering, there are a few things the state of Florida asks of potential and biological parents before the adoption can be made official.
Firstly, the stepparent must fully consent to the adoption process and file a sworn petition of adoption. Next, consent from both biological parents, if it is given, must also be submitted. If, for reasons listed below, the ex-spouse of the biological parent cannot give consent then a judgement of parental rights termination must be submitted instead. If the child is above 12 years of age, their consent can also be submitted, but it’s not necessary.
Parental consent can be waived if:
- The other parent has abandoned their child.
- The parental rights of the other parent have been terminated by order of a court.
- The other parent has been declared incompetent and restoration of competency is improbable.
- The legal guardian or custodian has not responded to a written request for consent for 60 days.
- The ex -spouse failed to give consent due to prolonged absence, incapacity, unavailability, or was found by the court to be withholding consent unreasonably.
File a Petition for Adoption
Once consent has been given and the stepparent has been approved for the process of legal adoption, they must then file a petition with the county court. This petition must be verified by a county court official, such as a notary public.
A petition must include:
- The date/ place of birth of the stepchild.
- If different from the stepchild’s current name, the name to be given to the child.
- The length of time the child has known the stepparent.
- The full name, age, and residence of the stepparent.
- A statement explaining the competence of the stepparent.
- The termination of parental rights form of the former spouse.
- The reason the stepparent wishes to adopt the child.
- Proof that an interview was held with the stepchild.
Once the petition has been submitted, a notice of petition must be made. This needs to include the above documentation and it must be given to any party interested in the adoption.
Hearing of Adoption
If all parties are aware of the adoption and have already given their full consent, there will be no delay between petition and hearing. Once the hearing is complete, the adoption will be finalized and the stepparent will become the legal parent.
Once the adoption is official, the ex-spouse no longer has any legal right to their child. Their parental rights are terminated - if they haven’t been already - and any court-ordered custody or monetary arrangements are no longer valid.
Contact Beatriz Zyne, P.A. Today
Adoption can be a difficult and lengthy process, even if one or both of the biological parents consent to the process. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced adoption attorney by your side. Beatriz Zyne is practiced in every type of adoption and will work with you to ease this process as much as she can.
Reach out today by calling (305) 876-6138 or contacting the firm online for a consultation.