Jacksonville Stepparent Adoption Attorney
What happens when a divorced ex-spouse remarries and their new
spouse wishes to adopt his or her stepchild?
In Florida, there are certain
procedural steps that need to be considered and followed. Once these steps are
complied with, the adopting parent will share full parental rights over the
child and in the eyes of the law, it will be as if the child was born to the
natural parent and the stepparent. The birth certificate is amended to reflect
the names of the stepparent and the natural parent as the parents of the child.
The first step of a stepparent adoption is to see whether the
stepparent is eligible to adopt under Florida law. As long as the person can be
an effective parent and is married to the legal parent of the child, the person
should be able to legally adopt.
The second step is for the stepparent, together with the spouse,
to file a Joint Petition for Stepparent Adoption with the circuit court for the
county in which he or she lives.
The petitioners are the stepparent and the spouse of the stepparent.
The petition for stepparent adoption must include certain information, such as:
- The child’s date of birth and his/her place of birth
- The name the child will be given if the child’s name is being
- Statement of how long the stepparent has lived with the child
- Reasons why the stepparent wants to adopt the child
The absent parent is then served with the Petition and is given
the opportunity within a certain timeframe in which to oppose the adoption. If
the absent parent does not object to the adoption or if the absent parent has
consented in writing, then a hearing will take place where the court will
finalize the adoption. This will give the child a new birth certificate showing
the child’s new name and parents.
If the absent parent does not consent to the adoption or cannot be
found, the best option is to file with the court to terminate the parental
rights of the absent parent. Under Florida Statute §63.064, termination of
parental rights of the absent parent is generally allowed if that parent has
Deserted the child without means of identification or has
abandoned the child and/or
Has been declared incompetent and restoration of competency is
If the birth father or mother cannot be found to obtain their
consent, then Florida law lists several steps that you must take to try and locate
the birth parent before proceeding with the adoption.
Consent is generally not necessary if the parent’s rights were
terminated in another proceeding. This can happen if:
(1) the parent has
executed a surrender document witnessed by two witnesses;
(2) the parent has
abandoned the child;
(3) the parent has engaged in behavior that endangers the
life, safety, well-being or health of the child;
(4) the parent is incarcerated
for a certain period of time;
(5) a child has been an adjudicated dependent and
the parent has not complied with the case plan filed with the court; or
parent has engaged in “egregious conduct” that threatened the health and
well-being of the child or a sibling of the child.
Finally, if the parent is declared to be incompetent, and there is
little chance he or she will become competent, then consent is not necessary
(such as when the parent is in a coma, for example, and there is little
likelihood the parent will emerge from the coma).
Same Sex Step Parent Adoption
With the recent legalization of gay marriage throughout Florida in
January 2015, stepparent adoption is now available to gay and lesbian couples
to adopt the child of their same-sex spouse. Previously, gay and lesbian
couples would have to go through a slightly different process called a second parent