Can I Legally Adopt My Spouse’s Children?
Nowadays many children have stepparents in their lives who they are as close to, if not closer to, as their biological parents. These stepparents often view their spouse’s biological children as their own and wish to legally formalize this parent-child relationship by adopting their stepchildren. Here in Florida stepparent adoption can be accomplished by eligible stepparents who follow the process outlined below.
Section 63.042 of the Florida Statutes outlines who may be adopted and who may adopt in Florida. In a nutshell, this statute indicates that most stepparents are eligible to be an adoptive parent, provided that they do not possess a handicap or physical disability that would render them incapable of being an effective parent.
Additionally, a stepparent in Florida can only adopt their stepchild if both of the child’s biological parents have consented to the adoption, or it is determined that a non-consenting biological parent’s consent is not legally necessary for some reason. In most cases the petitioning stepparent’s spouse will voluntarily consent to the adoption so only the child’s other biological parent will need to be persuaded to approve the stepparent adoption. In some situations it may be hard to obtain this biological parent’s consent as they will be giving up most of their parental rights if the adoption goes through. However, a biological parent’s consent is not required if:
- The parent abandoned the child,
- The parent’s parental rights were terminated in a prior legal proceeding, or
- If the parent is declared incompetent.
Stepparent Adoption in Florida: The Process
A stepparent who is eligible to adopt their stepchild must progress through the following steps in order to formalize the adoption:
- Step 1: File a petition for adoption with the local county clerk.
- Step 2: Participate in an interview that is primarily designed to determine the intentions of the petitioning stepparent.
- Step 3: If the court determines that the stepparent is eligible to adopt their stepchild and that the child’s biological mother and father have consented to the adoption (or that their consent is not required) then the court will formalize the adoption.
The Legal Consequences of Stepparent Adoption
It is important to realize that stepparent adoption creates a legally binding parent-child relationship between the petitioning stepparent and the stepchild that they adopt. This legal relationship comes with a variety of important legal rights and responsibilities. For example, the parent becomes legally responsible for the child’s education and care and the child is endowed with the right to inherit from the parent’s estate upon the parent’s passing.
Need Legal Advice? Contact a Local Family Law Attorney
If you would like more information about Florida’s stepparent adoption laws feel free to contact the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg, P.A. at your earliest convenience. Attorney David Hirschberg, one of Florida’s most reputable family law attorneys, would be happy to sit down with you during an initial consultation at our Boca Raton office, answer any questions that you might have, and discuss your legal options. Legally adopting a child is a beautiful thing, but the process can be daunting. Let us help you make this special time in your life progress as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. Contact us today by calling (561) 288-8620 or by filling out our online contact form.