Whether married parents divorce or unmarried parents separate, chances are that at least one parent will enter into a new marriage. Oftentimes, the new stepparent wishes to adopt the child(ren) of his or her spouse.
Florida legislature and the courts take adoption of stepchildren very seriously. The rights of a child’s biological parents are primary and will not be terminated unless a good reason exists to do so. When deciding whether to grant an adoption, the court’s utmost consideration is the best interests of the child. The court also considers the interests of both the biological parent and the adoptive parent.
Can Step Parents Adopt Stepchildren?
In the state of Florida, it is possible for stepparents to adopt their stepchildren, but they must strictly follow a court-governed process. While the procedure is complex and should be done with the assistance of an experienced family law attorney, here are a few things stepparents should know about adopting their stepchildren.
- Proven Parenthood. In Florida, adults who reside and work in the state and have the ability to care and provide for a child and are of good character may adopt a child.
- Parental Rights. The adoption of a child by anyone, including stepparents, cannot happen unless the biological parent(s) give up their parental rights. The parent who wishes to adopt a child must prove to the court that the biological relationship between child and parent must be terminated—forever.
In stepchildren adoptions, the biological parent may give consent for adoption thereby surrendering his or her rights to the child.
- Abusive Actions. Even if a biological parent does not want to relinquish rights to his or her child, if it is proven to the court that the parent has abused, neglected, or abandoned the child, the court has the authority to terminate the parental rights.
- Full Rights and Responsibilities. After a stepparent successfully adopts a stepchild, the stepparent has all of the rights and responsibilities of a biological parent—regardless of what happens later in life, including divorce.
- Relieving Rights. Once the biological parent’s rights are legally terminated, he or she is permanently relieved of all legal and financial needs of the child’s care. He or she will never again have to pay child support or any other costs for the child.
- Simultaneous Stepparent. In stepparent adoptions, the adopting parent may ask the court to hold a single, unified legal process. This means that during one court proceeding, the order finalizing the adoption also terminates the biological parent’s parental rights simultaneously.
Contact a Family Law Attorney in Miami, FL
If you are considering adopting your stepchildren in the Coral Gables area, then you should contact an experienced family law attorney who can help you avoid the pitfalls of the adoption process.