Completing A Stepparent Adoption In Florida
When a single parent remarries, his or her spouse can adopt the child through a process known as stepparent adoption. A stepparent adoption is quite different from other adoption methods. Typically, a stepparent adoption is a much quicker, simpler process because there is no need for a home study and the certification that the adoptive parent is fit to raise a child.
Requirements for a Florida Stepparent Adoption
Consent is an important part of a stepparent adoption. If the child is 12 or older, he or she must consent to the adoption for it to be finalized. The child’s other biological parent must also consent to the adoption. If he or she does so willingly, his or her parental rights are terminated and the adoption may proceed. If the other biological parent, even if that parent currently has no parenting time with the child, objects to the adoption, the custodial parent and his or her spouse have two options:
- Not proceed with the adoption. The parent’s spouse can still play a parental role and build a significant relationship with the child without becoming a legal parent; or
- Seek a court ruling to waive the need to obtain consent. This is only possible if the parent is deemed to somehow be unfit to keep his or her rights to the child or if the court finds the parent to be withholding consent unreasonably. Reasons to terminate an individual’s parental rights include abandonment of the child, abuse, and incapacity to care for a child due to mental illness or substance abuse.
Once consent is obtained, the couple files a Petition for Stepparent Adoption with the court. Once the petition is filed, a short hearing is scheduled. At the hearing, the judge confirms that all parties consent to the adoption and the proper protocol was followed, then finalizes the adoption. At this point, the other biological parent’s rights to the child are terminated.
Reasons to Adopt your Spouse’s Child
Adopting a spouse’s child gives you rights you would not otherwise have. Legally, it makes you the child’s parent. This grants you the following rights:
- The right to claim him or her as a dependent on your tax return;
- The right to seek parenting time and child support in the event you divorce your spouse later;
- The right to claim the child as a dependent on your health insurance; and
- The right to make legal decisions on the child’s behalf.
It can also solidify your relationship with your child and help every member of your household feel like you are officially a family.
Work with an Experienced Tampa Adoption Lawyer
Although stepparent adoptions are typically a straightforward process, you can run into legal snags that require the aid of an experienced Tampa family lawyer. Be prepared for anything that can arise by working with one of our lawyers from Bubley & Bubley, P.A. from the outset. Contact our office today to set up your initial consultation with a member of our firm.