Stepparent Adoption

West Palm Beach Stepparent Adoption AttorneyIntroduction

Stepparent adoption in Florida is strictly governed by the Florida Adoption Act, Chapter 63, Florida statutes. When the final judgment of adoption is entered by the court the birthparents rights are terminated and the adoptee obtains all inheritance rights of a child born to the adoptive parents. A new parental relationship is created between the child and the adoptive parent (stepparent). Adoption of a child by stepparent, however, does not relieve the birth parent of the obligation to pay child support arrearages accrued before the adoption. The law offices of West Palm Beach stepparent adoption attorney, Stephen J. Press, has over four decades of handling stepparent adoptions in Palm Beach County. You are invited to consult with our office at no charge for the initial consultation if you are considering a stepparent adoption.

Procedure

In order for a stepparent to adopt his or her spouse’s child with the current spouses consent, the other birthparents must consent to terminate his or her parental rights or receive the required notice of the proposed adoption. The consent of an unmarried biological father of a child more than six months old is required only if the father has done the following:

  • Developed a "substantial relationship" with the child;
  • taken "some measure of responsibility" with the child;
  • demonstrated a full commitment to parenthood by providing financial support in accordance with his ability to do so; and either
  • regularly (at least monthly) visited the child if physically and financially able to do so; or
  • Maintain regular communication with the child or the person or agency having custody of the child if physically and financially able to do so.
Florida Putative Father Registry

An unmarried biological father is required to file a notarized claim of paternity form with the Florida Putative Father Registry in order to preserve his right to receive notice and consent to adoption. By filing this claim of paternity a father confirms his willingness and intent to support the child for whom paternity is claimed. He must also consent to submit to DNA testing to establish paternity at the request of any party. In each proceeding for termination of parental rights pending adoption or for adoption, the petitioner is required to submit an application for a search of the Florida Putative Father Registry.

A consent must be obtained from the child to be adopted if he is 12 years of age or older, less the court "dispenses with the miners consent."

There are many exceptions to the requirements of the adoption statute created for stepparent adoptions. These include the following:

  • The report to the court of intended placement by an adoption entity is not required.
  • A preliminary home study is not mandatory but may be required by the court for good cause shown.
  • An interview with any parent whose consent is necessary is not required unless parental rights are or were terminated under chapter 39 Florida statutes.
  • The consent form is not required to contain the statement of parent’s rights.
  • A separate proceeding for termination of parental rights is not required.
  • The hearing on the petition for adoption may be held immediately after the petition is filed if all persons required to consent have done so and the consents have been filed.
  • A final home study is not required.
Uncontested stepparent adoption procedure

In cases where the other birthparents have given consent, the procedure can proceed on an uncontested basis. The procedure can be initiated by the filing of a joint petition by the biological parent and the stepparent. The consent obtained from the other biological parent is attached to the petition along with the child if he is 12 years of age or older. A certified copy of the child's birth certificate must be attached to the petition. A uniform Child custody jurisdiction and enforcement act affidavit must be attached to the petition. If the other parent is deceased, a certified copy of the death certificate must be attached. The hearing may be held immediately after the filing of the petition. Notice to the other parent is required unless that parent has signed a waiver of notice.

Contact a West Palm Beach stepparent adoption attorney

The law offices of West Palm Beach adoption attorney, Stephen J. Press takes pride in its professionalism and will handle your stepparent adoption case with the utmost compassion and expertise. Please call our office for a free consultation at 561-833-2772 or contact us online.