Will A Step Parent Adoption Help My Family?

Jacksonville Adoption Attorney, Neil Weinreb helps clients understand what is an adoption under Florida Law?

In Florida an adoption is a process whereby an individual can become the legal parent of a child.  It can result in a greater level of fulfillment to the lives of adoptive parents.  It can also provide a loving and stable home to a child suffering from poverty or neglect.

What types of adoption are available in Florida?

There are three (3) categories of adoption.

  1. There are non-relative adoptions,
  2. there are adoptions that occur as a result of a dependency case, and
  3. there are step parent adoptions.

Non relative adoptions are frequently begun where a mother has voluntarily given a child up for adoption.  Dependency proceedings frequently involve child abuse and neglect where the court determines that a neglected or abused child’s best interests are served by terminating one or both parents’ parental rights and making the child available for adoption.  The first two categories have different beginnings, but basically follow the same paths.  An adoption occurs through a process whereby the prospective parents are investigated before a preliminary placement occurs.  The termination of parental rights takes place in a separate proceeding before a petition for adoption can be filed.

A separate category of adoption in Florida is a step parent adoption. 

A procedure that is specifically provided for in the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure is a step parent adoption.  A Jacksonville adoption lawyer can help you navigate the statutes and procedures.  The procedure for a step parent adoption are somewhat relaxed, as the legislature found that the step parent adoption is relatively low risk.  Perhaps one reason for this is because the natural parent is typically directly involved in the proceeding and his or her rights remain intact.  There do not need to be separate proceedings to terminate a parents rights before filing for adoption, as in other types of adoptions.  A child must be available for a step parent adoption to take place.  Most of the time this occurs with the consent of one or both pf the parents.  It is typical for this to occur with the consent of the mother and the implied consent of the father.  This can also occur by inaction.  If the parent that is served with a petition for step parent adoption fails to act after being served or has abandoned the child, that parent’s rights may be terminated in the process of the step parent adoption.

What are the steps that one has to take for a step parent adoption in Jacksonville Florida?

There are specific steps that must be traversed along the way to a Florida step parent adoption.  Florida Statute 63.062 details which parties must consent to an adoption.  Mothers acquire full parental rights at the birth of their child.  Biological father’s have limited parental rights unless they have secured their parental rights through the court system or other administrative process.  They are referred to a “putative” fathers.  Once a final judgment of adoption is entered, it can only be set aside by showing that it substantially failed to meet the requirements of F.S. 63.21.  After one year following the final judgment, the final judgment cannot be challenged.

A step parent adoption can resolve some family issues.  It allows a child whose last name does not match his step parent’s last name to now have a matching last name.  Such is especially helpful where the step parent has other siblings with the child’s natural parent.  A natural parent that is obligated to pay child support is sometimes willing to consent to the adoption when they discover that their obligation to continue paying child support terminates, as well.  However, the support that has accrued remains unless voluntarily written off by the Obligee parent.

Who should consider letting a Jacksonville Adoption lawyer help with a step parent adoption?

Although a step parent adoption can sometimes resolve a number of family issues, it is not for everyone and it can also complicate family issues.  It is important that you consult with an experienced Jacksonville family law attorney that handles step parent adoptions to see if such would help your family.  Remember, a step parent adoption creates a legal obligation for the step parent just as if the child was a biological child with rights if inheritance as well as parental obligations and should not be taken lightly.  Therefore, a careful consideration of all aspects of such an undertaking should be discussed with an experienced attorney.

A Jacksonville Adoption Attorney can help me decide if a step parent adoption is right for me?

Neil Weinreb is a licensed Florida attorney who has been practicing family law for over 15 years in North Florida.  Mr. Weinreb works for the Law Office of David M. Goldman in Jacksonville, Florida.  Mr. Weinreb has worked as an adjunct professor teaching law to paralegal students at Jones College in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can contact Mr. Weinreb or one of the Jacksonville Adoption Lawyers at the Law Office of David M. Goldman for a free initial consultation today to find out how having an experienced attorney on your side can help.  Call (904) 685-1200 today.  Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, 4115 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville, Florida 32207.  Telephone (904) 685-1200.

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