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Step Parent Adoption

Becoming a stepparent means taking on many new responsibilities and challenges, as well as the joy of raising a child. For some stepparents, this also means considering whether to adopt a stepchild as your own. This decision is a significant one, both for the parent and child, and requires a careful consideration of family circumstances and legal requirements. Miami family law attorney Sandy T. Fox is a Florida Bar Board Certified marital and family law attorney with the experience and knowledge to help guide you through child custody matters, including step-parent adoption.

Florida Stepparent Adoption

Under Florida law, stepparent adoption occurs when a married stepparent adopts his or her spouse’s child from a prior relationship or marriage. Depending on the nature of the child’s relationship with their biological parents, stepparent adoption can proceed quickly or can be a complicated process. The first step is for the stepparent to file a petition for adoption with a Florida Circuit Court. Once this petition has been filed, the absent parent of the child must be given an opportunity to oppose the petition. If the absent parent does not oppose, the court will consider whether the adoption is in the best interest of the child. If it believes adoption to be beneficial, the court can grant the petition for adoption and a new birth certificate will be issued for the child.

Termination of Parental Rights

If a child’s other parent is in regular contact with the child and is not absent from the child’s life, a stepparent must obtain consent from that parent before a stepparent adoption can be completed. If the parent refuses to consent, or cannot be found, the stepparent and his or her spouse may attempt to terminate the parental rights of the other parent. This may also be an option where an absent parent opposes an adoption. Termination of parental rights is a very serious decision and must be treated carefully. Under Florida law, termination is possible under three different circumstances: (1) the parent has abandoned or deserted the child; (2) a father has not registered his paternity with Florida’s Putative Father Registry prior to the action to terminate his rights; or (3) the parent has been declared incompetent and restoration of competency is medically unlikely. If termination is successful, the stepparent can then proceed with adoption.

Becoming an Adoptive Parent

If a stepparent is successful in their petition to adopt their stepchild, they become a full legal guardian of the child before the court, with all the rights and responsibilities that entails. They are required to provide the same financial and emotional support to the child as the birth parent and will be held accountable for such responsibilities. As such, stepparent adoption is not a process that should be taken lightly. A qualified Florida family law attorney is best suited to help stepparents decide if adoption is the best option for them.

Supporting Your New Family

If you are a stepparent considering adoption, or are a spouse wondering if stepparent adoption is the best option for your family, South Florida family law attorney Sandy T. Fox is here to help you evaluate your options and make the best choice for your new family. Practicing Florida family law since 2004, Sandy T. Fox can provide you with guidance on how to file a petition for stepparent adoption, and help you determine whether it may be necessary to file for termination of the parental rights of an absent parent. If you have questions about these processes or adoption generally, contact the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. for a confidential consultation at 800.596.0579 or online.